Piazza Anita Garibaldi takes its name from the monument inaugurated on 10 September 1888 in the presence of King Umberto I, dedicated to Anita Ribeira de’ Silva di Merinos, “wife and companion in glory and misfortune of Giuseppe Garibaldi” and “to the people of Ravenna who died on the scaffold, in prison, in war and in exile”, as stated in the municipal resolution that launched the project to honour those who died for Independence, conceived on the annexation to the Savoy State in 1860.
The work was entrusted to the Florentine Cesare Zocchi and, in a climate of high social conflict and ideological conflicts between monarchists and opponents, it raised a number of controversies. In fact, 23 republican and 28 socialist associations of sharecroppers and farm labourers did not even attend the inauguration in protest against the “Royals”.
The four lions depicted in the monument symbolise the crucial years of the Risorgimento, 1831, 1848, 1859 and 1870. The female figure, in the guise of the goddess Athena, giving a laurel wreath to a fallen soldier, represents the city of Ravenna. The bronze bas-reliefs depict two moments in Anita’s life: wading across the River Canavas and her death from malaria on 4 August 1848 on the Guiccioli farm, north of Ravenna.
The square itself is slightly older. Built in 1879, along the avenue leading to the railway station, it took the place of old buildings in the neighbourhood.
The square, and with it the monument, were damaged in the 1944 bombings that hit this part of the city. After the end of the war, the monument was restored to its original condition.
In 2011, however, the square underwent major excavation work by the Region and the Hera Group to create an ecological island. On this occasion, mosaic flooring from the Roman period was discovered, now preserved in the TAMO Museum.