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

Both Italy and Switzerland are paying tribute to the philosopher and revolutionary who helped shape modern Italy.

Italy marks 150th anniversary of the death of philosopher Carlo Cattaneo
Italian philosopher and revolutionary Carlo Cattaneo died in exile in Lugano, Switzerland, in 1869. Photo: Historical Archive of the City of Lugano.

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.

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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. 


Key points: Italy to introduce new heating restrictions for the winter

Italian residents will be asked to turn the heating down by one degree and turn it off for an extra hour every day under the government's latest energy-saving plans.

Key points: Italy to introduce new heating restrictions for the winter

On Thursday, Italy’s outgoing Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani signed off on a new energy-saving decree introducing tighter limits and restrictions for the use of gas heating over the winter. 

“The daily operating period will be reduced by one hour a day, whereas the overall winter heating season will be shortened by 15 days, postponing the switch-on date by eight days and bringing the switch-off forward by seven,” said the ministry through an official note

READ ALSO: Climate zones: When can you turn your heating on Italy this winter?

The decree, the note added, will also tighten the cap on indoor temperature values, with businesses being asked not to exceed 18C (down from 19C) and private citizens having to set their heating at a maximum of 19C (down from 20C).

Though the new restrictions will apply to the majority of the resident population, a number of buildings across the territory will be exempt. 

Woman next to a radiator.

The new restrictions will apply to all public and private buildings except places of worship, nurseries, kindergartens and swimming pools. Photo by Jean-Christophe VERHAEGEN / AFP

In particular, according to the ministerial note, rules will not apply to “places of worship, nurseries, kindergartens and swimming pools” nor to “buildings whose heating systems rely on sources of renewable energy”. 

Moreover, “in the event of particularly severe weather conditions, local authorities will retain the power to authorise heating outside the times set in the decree”.

The new energy-saving plan, whose first draft had been disclosed by The Local in early September, came at the tail-end of a series of nation-wide measures aimed at tackling the European energy crisis, including Italy’s gas-supply diversification efforts.

READ ALSO: Italy to have enough gas ‘to make it through winter’

According to a study from national power regulator ENEA, the new restrictions might allow the country to save as much as 2.7 billion cubic metres of gas over the winter season.  

That said, at the time of writing, it was unclear how the government would go about enforcing the new rules, with the new decree (text available here) sidestepping the subject almost entirely.

The decree’s first draft stated that local authorities would carry out random inspections in “public buildings, apartment blocks and businesses” and monitor daily gas consumption data with the help of gas grid operators.

Inside of an apartment.

Local authorities will be allowed to carry out random inspections, though it isn’t yet clear how this will work in the case of private houses. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

However, the document did not mention how enforcement would work in the case of independent houses or apartments equipped with their own separate heating system (riscaldamento autonomo). 

At the time of writing, there were also no indications that the government was planning on introducing fines for those flouting the rules – in early September, Cingolani had been recorded as saying that the new rules would not be “draconian” but rather largely based “on citizens’ responsibility”.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How much are energy prices rising in Italy this autumn?

Having said that, future penalties for transgressors couldn’t be ruled out yet. 

The full text of the new ministerial decree is available here. To know what climate zone your comune belongs to, you can download the PDF list available here.