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DOMENICO AND GIULIO ADAMOLI IN THE HISTORY OF ITALY



ILLUSTRIOUS VARESINI. DOMENICO AND GIULIO ADAMOLI IN THE HISTORY OF ITALY BETWEEN EIGHT AND TWENTIETH CENTURY

With these brief notes we want to contribute to a greater knowledge of the figures of Domenico Adamoli (1813-1876), a businessman from Varese and a lively Risorgimento patriot, and of the best known son Giulio (1840-1926), Garibaldi, politician, renowned engineer, explorer and writer, who can well be considered, for the breadth of interests and activities that characterized his life, an all-round protagonist of Italian history as a knight between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Both figures, similar and at the same time different, symbolize the participation of the Varesini in the Risorgimento epic and their political commitment in the new unitary state, to which they cooperated in first person. Although the figure of Giulio Adamoli has been extensively studied by Giuseppe Armocida, efforts will nevertheless be made to investigate some aspects of his multifaceted personality and his brilliant career as a politician and explorer, results that are particularly worthy of interest.
Domenico and Giulio Adamoli belonged to one of the major families of Varese: a branch of the Adamoli family, originally from Valsassina, had moved to Varese in the sixteenth century, parallel to that which had consolidated its presence in Lyon thanks above all to the silk trade. The connections between the Adamoli of Varese and those of Lyon remained constant until the nineteenth century and, among Giulio's ancestors, there is a Lyonnais, Alfonse Pierre, who, born in Lyon in 1754, reported his descent to Varese , where his son Giuseppe (1789-1819) was born and his nephew Domenico, Giulio's father, with whom the male line of the family was then interrupted.
Until the seventies of the last century the castle of Besozzo, which became the definitive residence of the Adamoli after the abandonment of the Varese residence, kept numerous papers relating to the Varese family of the Adamoli: it was mostly nineteenth-century material, mainly concerning the activity by Domenico and his wife Lucia Prinetti (1819-1864). Following the disappearance of Giulio Adamoli's daughters, the family archives suffered numerous dispersions: part of his documents ended up in the collection of the Museo Patrio of the Municipal Historical Archive of Varese, where it is still possible to consult them, part of which is instead in the Armocida Library of Ispra.
The papers kept in the Varese Municipal Historical Archive are able to reveal some profiles of the figure of Domenico Adamoli, so far little, if anything, studied.
A prominent character in the 19th century provincial capital, wealthy landowner with a silkworm farm, from an early age he worked for the success of the patriotic cause during the Risorgimento battles and precisely political passion made him meet, in Milan, Lucia Prinetti, with whom he shared throughout his life the independence ideals that had animated him since his teenage years.
After completing his studies, his main occupation was, initially, the management of the family business, evidenced by the notebooks kept at the Patrio Museum Collection of the Varese Municipal Historical Archive: Domenico's diligent notes outline a general picture of the his prosperous entrepreneurial activity and his commitment to improve his properties, so much so that, in the thirties of the nineteenth century, he was offered the position of deputy of the esteemed estates of the provincial congregation. At the same time he actively participated in local political life: he took part in the first municipal council after the ceased Austrian domination and in the electoral committee made up of the main exponents of the liberal and radical Varese bourgeoisie in view of the elections of 1865. He was also a member of the consortium commission of Laveno for direct taxes of 1873, as well as mayor of Besozzo between 1875 and 1877.
Despite the pressing political and entrepreneurial commitments, throughout his existence Domenico traveled a lot, often for business reasons, but also for the sheer pleasure of visiting distant places with the curiosity and enthusiasm that, a few decades later, would have animated the numerous movements of his son Giulio. The aforementioned Museo Patrio Collection revealed the presence, among the preserved papers, of some travel diaries, compiled by Domenico during some trips: the first, dated 1838, documents the journey through the Italian cities of Genoa, Florence, Pisa, Livorno, Rome and Naples, then ended in Calabria; in 1843 he went to Livorno again and the following year to Switzerland. The rigor and precision of the individual are manifested in the accurate travel notebooks and in the habit of annotating many aspects of daily life, such as, for example, the title of the volumes of his rich library: among his personal objects a small emerged rubric entitled "Memory of the lent books", from which the attachment to his copious book collection shines through which, nonetheless, he loved to share with relatives and friends. The archival papers also reveal to us what was perhaps one of his greatest passions: I refer to the numerous hunting trips conducted in the Besozzese countryside, to which he dedicated most of his free time.
Character out of the ordinary, appreciated by fellow citizens for his gifts of generosity and common sense, Domenico managed to skillfully combine the care of his property interests with the contribution to the Risorgimento cause, so much so that Leopoldo Giampaolo called him "one of the most beautiful and singular patriotic figures from Varesotto”. Also very favorable is the memory outlined by Federico Della Chiesa, lawyer and mayor of Varese, who described his friend Domenico with these affectionate words: "Rich in wealth, he was concerned with nothing but the destinies of our poor country" .
Domenico's magnanimity and pragmatism, manifested above all during the Risorgimento emergency, translated into the warm welcome reserved, in his home, to the main exponents of the Italian cause - I refer, in particular, to Garibaldi and Mazzini -, in the organization of supplies of food and money to the volunteers and, sometimes, in substantial financial aid destined for the Hero of the two Worlds. Unable to stay in Varese while his son joined the Garibaldi volunteers, he joined him to give him support and courage: Giulio, who had always been very close to him, at his death in 1876, remembered him as a man "universally well-liked for the inexhaustible goodness of his soul", who worked "in serving the Fatherland", in love with the news and committed to spreading it "having the progress of the country at the top of every thought".
No less singular was the consort of Domeneghin, Lucia Prinetti (1819-1864), an extraordinary woman, a Risorgimento patriot and a prominent figure of female political commitment in Lombardy at the time. Born in Milan in 1819, from her early youth she was linked to some great personalities of the Lombard Risorgimento; in 1839 he married Domenico Adamoli from Varese, with whom he had two children, Giulio, born in 1840, and Massimiliano (called Max), born in 1844 and prematurely passed away in November 1861 at the end of a long illness. Animated by a deep republican-Mazzinian faith, great admirer and friend of Garibaldi, whom the Adamoli spouses hosted several times in the castle of Besozzo, she took part in the political events of the time until her death, which occurred when she was only forty-five years old. The knowledge of this interesting female figure contributed to the publication of an autograph diary, which began at the end of 1858, a precious testimony of the second war of independence and of Garibaldi's victories in the pre-Alpine area. It is accompanied by a rich correspondence, studied by Giuseppe Armocida and Gianni Perna.
The affection and admiration that the local population had towards the Adamoli spouses, unanimously considered a high example of patriotism and generosity, had, after their disappearance, an official recognition: Besozzo, second homeland of Lucia and Domenico, in 1905 on the facade of the municipal house he inaugurated a plaque-medallion in honor of the two spouses, who became real figures symbol of the nineteenth-century Varese history. Varese, which was the birthplace of Domenico Adamoli in 1813, also honored his memory by dedicating a way to him.
Even more than his beloved parents, Giulio Adamoli, a leading exponent of the nineteenth century from Varese, was known at local and national level, known for his many interests and numerous activities carried out with enthusiasm and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, thanks to his youthful military commitment in the countryside. of the Risorgimento to the adventurous explorations conducted in Asia and Africa, to the long political militancy in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Kingdom. He has always been a strong supporter of the progress of science and civilization, the transformations known by Italy in the delicate transition between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the salient facts of his life, from youth initiatives to subsequent, numerous journeys, he himself tells us in the volume, published posthumously in 1929, with the significant title Episodi lived, written "with the unadorned simplicity of a man of action, who takes his pen only to tell the facts he knows, without any stylistic or literary concern".
Born in Varese on February 29, 1840, he spent his childhood with his younger brother Max in Como, studying under the tutelage of tutor Pietro Mondelli, a close friend of the parents of the two boys. In 1857, after passing his high school exams, he enrolled in the Mathematics Faculty of the University of Pavia, where he took part in patriotic student movements, coming into contact with the Cairoli family. In 1859, the year in which he met Giuseppe Garibaldi, against whom he always had boundless admiration and a sincere attachment, he interrupted university studies to enroll as a simple soldier in the first Grenadiers regiment of Sardinia and thus participate in the second war of independence, fighting in the bloody battles of San Martino and Solferino.
He therefore decided to resign from the Piedmontese regular army to join Garibaldi's volunteers: having reached Sicily in May 1860, on board the small "Useful" steamship, he fought with the Red Shirts at Volturno.
Arrived in Naples, he graduated together with some comrades in arms, also university students, to then obtain the diploma of free practice as an engineer in Milan in 1865 and try his hand at another undertaking, no less complex than the military ones, which saw him act in the foreground in the railway sector, at the time booming. Taking advantage of the experience gained as a "practitioner in an office of the Railways", once he became an engineer, he engaged himself, on behalf of the Society of Railways of Upper Italy, in the construction works of the Milan-Pavia line. The activity in the railway transport sector culminated in the appointment as president of the commission charged, in 1903, to examine the railway problem of the port of Genoa and that which dealt with communications railway lines of Turin with the Ligurian west.
However, the military commitment soon returned to occupying its existence: recalled by Garibaldi, he participated in the second southern adventure, fighting, in 1862, in Aspromonte. Four years later, in 1866, he fought in the third war of independence, distinguishing himself, within the Garibaldi battalion of the Lombard Bersaglieri, as the most valuable collaborator of Major Nicostrato Castellini. During the clash of Vezza d'Oglio, surprised by a handful of Austrians who ordered him to surrender, he managed to lead his soldiers to safety, thus deserving the silver medal. Afflicted by a deep sadness for the death of his brother Max and his beloved mother Lucia, immediately after the campaign of 1866 he left for the United States: “To overcome the sad state of my soul, I therefore decided to travel, and know the world. For the purpose of my wanderings I chose the United States of America, cited, rightly or wrongly, then, as a model of a free nation; above all, however, by those who had never set foot there, and it was the majority”. After staying in London, where he met Giuseppe Mazzini several times, who gave him several letters of recommendation for American friends, he embarked for Boston, where he arrived on December 20, 1866, bringing with him a letter from Garibaldi who presented him to the President of the United States. The enthusiasm of the young twenty-six year old to discover a world so different from the reality in which he grew up is captured, with the spontaneous style that always characterizes his prose, in the letters sent to his father Domenico, in which he expresses frankly the different impressions received by the visit abroad. From Boston he headed south, passing through New York and crossing the states devastated by the civil war, to then land on the island of Cuba, described in an article published in "Nuova Antologia" in January-February 1894. The long stay, which allowed Giulio to know and appreciate the American government system inaugurated in the aftermath of the war of secession, nevertheless pushed him to express himself with a scratchy irony on the customs and habits of American citizens.
Returning home, in 1867 he reached Garibaldi in Geneva on the occasion of the Congress of Peace and once again underwent the irresistible charm of the General, deciding to follow him with ardor and dedication to the cry of "Rome or death". The unfortunate attempt to conquer Rome also fought in Mentana: the episode is remembered, among others, by Gualtiero Castellini, who defines ours as one of the "most distinguished survivors" of the expedition.
From that eventful era, Adamoli left a concrete testimony in his memoir Da San Martino a Mentana. Memories of a volunteer (1859-1867), a diary of the Risorgimento battles in which the author recalls memories of his personal experience in the field. The narration begins with the first chapter entitled "In Piedmont", in 1858 when Giulio, then a young student of mathematics at the University of Pavia, began to take part, together with other boys, "in the demonstrations against the Austrians, which preceded the campaign of 1859 "and ends with the end of the military adventure of Mentana. In this volume, composed taking inspiration from the notes that Adamoli took from time to time, between one fight and another, from the letters of his comrades in arms and from those that he himself sent from the field to the family, the Garibaldian feats 'intertwine with curious anecdotes, composing a mosaic of news condensed in a fresh and spontaneous style. The pages of this military diary revive the climate of the Garibaldian epic, putting the reader in direct contact with those men, from the most diverse social classes, noble and common people, writers, artists, students, but also workers and laborers, different for customs and education, but united by a strong common ideal. Therefore, it can well be considered something more than a simple book of memories, so much so that it is defined as "strong and witty narration that seems to keep portraits, paintings, episodes, lively anecdotes hidden at every turn of the page".
After the era of the Risorgimento battles, it was time, for Giulio Adamoli, of numerous geographical explorations, no less full of pitfalls and dangers than the military expeditions in which he had participated with such ardor: used to travel since childhood, excursions, conducted in different parts of the world, they characterized the whole second part of his existence and were a constant source of enthusiasm for him.
Between 1869 and 1870 he was engaged in a journey of commercial exploration in which he had to face emergencies and discomforts of all kinds, although the mind was continually turned towards Italian unification to complete which only the conquest of Rome was now missing. His journey to Central Asia began with a long stay in Russia, described in two articles published in the journal "New Anthology", and then continued along the Kyrgyz steppe, the Kokan, to the fascinating city of Samarkand. From Samarkand he transported home the precious marbles of the Tamerlane mausoleum, on which some funerary inscriptions were engraved, subsequently exhibited at the Oriental Exhibition opened in Florence on the occasion of the Congress of Orientalists.
As a leading exponent of the Italian Geographical Society, he made a great effort to encourage the organization of scientific expeditions in Africa for economic penetration purposes. The partnership, born in Florence in 1867 on the impulse of a group of intellectuals united by a common interest in geography, aimed to promote geographical explorations and support national economic interests through targeted commercial studies. The two souls of the Society, scientific and political, found in the multifaceted figure of Giulio Adamoli a perfect representative, able to support the "geographical cause" in Parliament with his influence and diplomacy: first councilor (1877-1887) and subsequently vice president (1887-1895) of the Italian Geographical Society, he favored the African expeditions of Orazio Antinori, Romolo Gessi and Pellegrino Matteucci, participating personally in numerous trips.
Precisely on behalf of the Italian Geographical Society, in 1876 he left for Morocco, in command of an exploratory mission that had not only the purpose of investigating the possibility of identifying commercial routes to Sudan, but also that of studying the territory in view of the foundation of an Italian commercial farm on the coast between Capo Nun and Capo Badajoz. Precisely the political delicacy of this operation led the Company to entrust it to Giulio Adamoli, who was among the first to support the importance for Italy of extending its influence on the African continent, so much so that it was rightly defined " one of the points of the expansionist tendency in the parliamentary left”. On his return from Morocco, Varesino, in a conference held in December 1876, reported the results of the mission he had just completed to the members of the Geographical Society.
The commitment of Giulio Adamoli the explorer produced inevitable reflections on his political activity, constantly oriented to the improvement of the grants granted by the government to geographic enterprises: in the parliamentary session of 5 March 1884 he carried out a long and articulated intervention aimed at convincing the audience of the need to allocate a subsidy in excess of the 20,000 lire assigned to them in that year for scientific, geographical and commercial expeditions. With the weapons of perfect eloquence, pervaded by a constant, irresistible, subtle irony - “You know how things are going; not all ministers, however talented and intelligent in the subjects they are called to deal with, are practical in geographical matters" he said towards the end of his speech, provoking a hilarious movement among parliamentarians -, he stressed the economic advantages that the whole country would have obtained from the continuous organization of increasingly ambitious commercial explorations. In pleading the cause of the newly formed Commercial Exploration Society in Africa of Milan, of which he was one of the founding members, he spoke to his fellow Members: "The Milanese Exploration Society also seems to me to have the right to recognition of the country. She sent Bianchi to Africa, who is the ones who freed Cecchi, without saying of other expeditions and of all the good she does to the trade, because by sending agents to Africa, by bringing you samples, she becomes the best pioneer of the Italian trade in Africa".
Of the adventurous journeys made in different parts of the world, Adamoli wrote interesting reports, in which rich descriptions of the geography of the place - including the meteorological characters - alternate with acute observations regarding the uses and customs of the natives. The scientific objective of divulging anecdotes and impressions derived from the direct observation of foreign places and peoples is often accompanied by insightful political reflections: the reading of the essay entitled A military expedition in Central Asia. August-September 1870 shows, in particular, that the political implications of the attitude adopted by the Russians towards neighboring Asian populations did not escape the explorer's witty analysis.
These writings, together with the two books of memoirs and some historical stories set in the Middle Ages, form a fairly large and composite literary production, rich in that "liveliness and freshness of those who aim above all at things, and disdain any tinsel". Person of vast culture, with interests that ranged across very different sectors, Giulio directed the activity of writer, also testified by the participation in the jury of honor of the Association of the Periodical Press, also towards the historical genre. In this juncture, in addition to the aforementioned stories, the autographed 18-page manuscript, composed around 1882, studied and transcribed by Giuseppe Armocida: the "Historical News (collected by Giulio Adamoli)", subsequently called "Historical News of Besozzo and of the Adamoli family ”, they consist of a first part, mainly dedicated to facts and events in the Besozzese history, and a second part, focused on the reconstruction of the genealogy of the Adamoli.
The role played in the aforementioned geographical explorations led him to be among the Italian representatives at the Brussels International Geography Congress, promoted by the Belgian ruler Leopold II in June 1877, as well as at the Third Venice International Congress of 1881, to whose organization he contributed personally . He also participated in the Italian Geographical Congresses of Genoa in 1892, of Rome in 1895, of Florence in 1898, of Milan in 1901 and of Naples in 1904, giving a significant contribution to the planning of the shipments of Antinori and Bottego.
As for his brilliant political career, which would have led him to sit in the Senate of the Kingdom, it should first of all be specified that, if the political action of Father Domenico had concentrated solely on the Varese area, that of Giulio expanded, instead, to the the entire national territory, to which he had personally contributed. After having held the position of mayor of Cardana, now a hamlet of Besozzo, and the experience gained in the provincial council of Como, where he sat as a Varese representative in 1876, while he was in command of an exploratory mission on behalf of the Italian Geographic Society, he was elected deputy in the college of Luino-Gavirate-Angera going up to the seat left free following the appointment of Giuseppe Ferrari as senator. Upon hearing the news, Giulio telegraphed from Morocco to accept the assignment of representing the nation in Parliament. Giuseppe Garibaldi himself congratulated the new deputy in a letter written in Caprera on June 9, 1876. It was, however, only from 1882 that Adamoli managed to definitively gain the role of Varese leader of the Democrats.
Representative of the constitutional left, he was able to win the favor of every part of the Chamber, so much so that during the thirteenth term he was appointed to the position of commissioner (1879-1880) and, subsequently, he was secretary of the Chamber from 1887 to 1893. In the two-year period between 1893 and 1894 he carried out the prestigious post of State Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce and, as a colonial specialist, from 1894 to 1896 that of State Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a high task which he was able to carry out with seriousness and concern, following the advice of Francesco Crispi, of whom he was a friend and follower.
In Parliament he was not one of the most frequent speakers, but when he spoke he was able to make himself heard for the ease and ease of his speech and for the "firmness of the reasons" on which he based his opinions.
On 17 November 1898 he crowned his political career with the appointment as Senator of the Kingdom, after having been a deputy for eight legislatures between the seventies and nineties of the nineteenth century.
During the years of political commitment, a solid friendship bound him to Giuseppe Zanardelli, testified by the close correspondence between them in the last decades of the nineteenth century: Adamoli not infrequently turned to his friend from Brescia, Minister of Justice advocating the first penal code of united Italy as well as President of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Italy between 1901 and 1903, in favor of fellow villagers incurred in serious criminal convictions.
From 1907 he spent most of his existence away from Italy: for about twenty years he exercised, proving remarkable diplomatic skills, the functions of commissioner for Italy to the Public Debt Fund. The performance of the assignment required, in addition to a thorough knowledge of international affairs, a substantial dose of authority and prudence, tact and shrewdness, all faculties necessary to better protect the national interests related to the Suez Canal.
In these years he made several excursions along the Nile and in the Near East, also dedicating himself to port engineering studies, conducted for pure personal interest: he belonged, in fact, to that group of Lombards who, on their own initiative and at their expense, tried to pave the road to Italian colonial expansion.
Always linked to the sovereigns of the Kingdom, and especially to Queen Margherita, of whom he appreciated the "unsurpassed grace", in his autobiography Julius mentioned the last visit to His Majesty, in August 1925, during which he informed her on the developments of the his stay in Egypt. The disappearance of the queen, just before her, deeply disturbed Adamoli, who had always been his faithful subject and a devoted admirer. With these words full of nostalgia he closed his memoir, recalling the beloved sovereign: "With the death of Queen Margherita a great sun that illuminated my life has disappeared".
Very active and still full of energy and interests even after passing the age of eighty (in 1925 he participated, eighty-five years old, in the International Geographic Congress of Cairo), he died in the Egyptian capital on December 25, 1926. The news of his death, immediately spread in the Reign, aroused a sincere condolence not only among the affectionate citizens of Varese, but also among all those in whom the memory of the passionate Lombard patriot was still alive, whose existence was "entirely dedicated to the greatness and love of the country".
In the commemoration speech of his recently deceased colleague, the then President of the Senate of the Kingdom Tommaso Tittoni recalled the salient facts of a life out of the ordinary as it had been that of Giulio Adamoli, "an inviting soul of patriot, man of character and intellect equally noble ".
A few years after the advent, in Italy, the fascist regime was eclipsing the star of this extraordinary character, who had lived and embodied the transformations that took place in our country between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: born in an Italy "divided into states and statues dominated by the Austrian colossus ", he had built, together with thousands of patriots like him, an Italy finally united, helping to develop progress within it and increase its prestige on the outside, aware, perhaps, of the dangerous trail of glorious dreams of size on which the Italian nation was walking.


Linked toDomenico Adamoli; Giulio Adamoli

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