Italy marks 150th anniversary of the death of philosopher Carlo Cattaneo

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected] • 7 Feb, 2019 Updated Thu 7 Feb 2019 11:19 CEST
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Both Italy and Switzerland are paying tribute to the philosopher and revolutionary who helped shape modern Italy.


Italian President Sergio Matterella today paid tribute to Italian philosopher Carlo Cattaneo, who died on February 5 1869, and a series of special events was announced to commemorate his life and work

Cattaneo is best known as an influential figure in the 'Risorgimento', the Italian unification movement led by Garibaldi.

He led Milan’s city council during the 1848 uprising in Lombardy against an occupation by Austrian forces under Marshal Radetzky. 

In the so-called Five Days of Milan, residents of the northern Italian city rose up and boycotted tobacco and gambling, key revenues for the Austrians – which resulted in violent street clashes.

That protest is widely seen as the one of the incidents that kickstarted the Risorgimento, and Italy's drive towards independence and a unified nation state.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about March 17th, Italy's Unity Day

When the Austrians returned to occupy Milan in revenge for the uprising led by Cattaneo, the Italian philosopher was forced to flee to Lugano in late 1848, where he wrote his most famous work, History of the 1848 Revolution.

He died just over 20 years later in 1869 outside the Italian-speaking Swiss city of Lugano, where he had spent the last 20 years of his life in exile. 

President Mattarella today described Cattaneo as “a great figure of the Italian Risorgimento, a builder of national unity, and a multifaceted intellectual who was able to combine thought with courageous political action aimed at progress and to social justice.”

He said Cattaneo’s thinking was still relevant across Europe today.

Cattaneo "was among the first to formulate the goal of the United States of Europe, as a framework of authentic federalism capable of maintaining independence, unity, freedom and solidarity,” he said.

“Thinking that still speaks to our responsibility as Europeans, today, in the face of the great changes we are experiencing.”

Now the Carlo Cattaneo Association, the Italian-Swiss Committee for the publication of Cattaneo's works, has organised events in both countries to mark the anniversary.

A series of talks and events in schools, museums and universities will cover everything from the philosopher's impact on European thought to his contemporary relevance. 

The Five Days of Milan uprising, as well as other similar revolts across the Italian peninsula in 1848, contributed to Italy's First War of Independence. 

Cattaneo was elected to the Italian parliament several times after Italy's unification in 1861. Each time he refused to take up his seat, citing resistance to swearing an oath to the king.  

Cattaneo always rejected Cavour and Garibaldi's overtures to join their movement because of opposition to its patron, Victor Emmanuel II, the king of the House of Savoy in Piedmont. Cattaneo was a lifelong and staunch republican.

Cattaneo died in 1869 in Castagnola, Lugano, an Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.

As Cattaneo was an important figure for both Italy and Switzerland, the commemorative events being held from March to October 2019 is transnational.

"Catteneo is one of the most important Italian-Swiss exiles," Pietro Montorfani, head of Lugano's historical archive, told The Local.

Events are scheduled in Lugano in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland, as well as in the Italian cities of Milan and Castellanza, home to Carlo Cattaneo University.

Some of the programme’s highlights include: 


April 10th: 'Carlo Cattaneo, contemporary thinker'

A course with several interventions from experts.

Location: L'Università Carlo Cattaneo, Corso G. Matteotti, 22, 21053 Castellanza VA. 


March 19th, 11:00: Series of talks

'Cattaneo and Milan', commemoration of the Five Days of Milan, by Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala
'Cattaneo before and after 1848', by Mariachiara Fugazza

'The relevance of Carlo Cattaneo' Illustration of the initiatives for the 150th anniversary, by Alberto Martinelli

Location: Town Hall, hall of the City Council, building Marino, Piazza della Scala 2, Milan.

March 19th, 18:00: 'The modernity of Carlo Cattaneo'

Conference organized by the Istituto Lombardo Accademia of Sciences and Letters.

Location: Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, Maria salon Teresa, via Brera 28, 20121, Milan. 

October 29th-30th: 'Cattaneo after Cattaneo'

An international conference promoted by the Italian-Swiss Committee,

Location: Museo del Risorgimento, via Borgonuovo 23, 20121, Milan.


March 11th, March 25th, April 1st, 18:00: 'The Return of Carlo Cattaneo: 1869 to 2019'

Various experts will introduce Cattaneo's work, life and influence. 

Location: University of Italian Switzerland, Red Palace - Hall A 11, Via Giuseppe Buffi 13, 6900 Lugano.

March 25th, 18:00–19:30: 'Cattaneo in Lugano'

A reflection on Cattaneo's presence in and influence on the canton of Ticino, as well as a review of his philosophy. 

Location: University of Italian Switzerland, Red Palace - Hall A 11, Via Giuseppe Buffi 13, 6900 Lugano.

May 7th, 18:00, September 7th, 18:00: 'Carlo Cattaneo - A European intellectual in Lugano'

A talk on Cattaneo's influence on European identity. 

Location: Cantonal Library, viale C. Cattaneo 6, 6900, Lugano.

May 15th: 'Cattaneo's places in images'

A virtual tour through the places Cattaneo lived and worked in: Milan, Zurich, Livorno, Lugano, Paris, Naples. 

Location: Liceo Cantonale, viale C. Cattaneo 4, 6900, Lugano. 



The Local Italy 2019/02/07 11:19

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