A ghost in a red shirt used to haunt the Biennale Gardens in Venice. The former soldier had to uphold his promise to protect his hero, Garibaldi, even in death. 

In the Castello district in Venice, in the Giardini della Biennale there is a statue of a soldier of Garibaldi, a hero of the Italian Unification. If you look closely though, there is another statue to see. Right behind Garibaldi’s statue there is a bronze statue of a lesser known soldier that is still standing guard, right behind Garibaldi’s back in the garden. 

Garibaldi himself was an Italian general, patriot, revolutionary and republican. He is remembered as a big contributor to the Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in the 19th century. 

The statue of the soldier was once a man named Giuseppe Zolli. He was a local and studied at the University of Padua before joining Italy’s independence war in 1859. He joined what became known as the Camice Rosse, or the Redshirts. These were volunteering men that followed Garibaldi and fought against the Austrian Empire, The kingdom of Two Sicilies and the Papal States among others and were very famous at the time. 

RedShirts: A typical redshirt worn by Garibaldi’s men

The young soldier, Giuseppe Zolli was so dedicated to this man that he swore an oath to always guard him, even in his death. Because he did die in service during the Mille Expedition or the Expedition of the Thousand, a mission to take back Southern Italy from Bourbon rule. 

After he died he was buried on the island of San Michele, which is the cemetery of Venice. 

The statue of Zolli wasn’t placed there until 1921, when people started to notice strange things happening around the war heroes monument. People reported of a ghostly soldier all dressed in a red shirt tripping and tugging at people passing by the monument. An elderly man living close by recognized the soldier as Zolli and told them all about his promise. The city then decided to erect a statue in his honor. 

However, if you are looking for the ghostly soldier, he is probably nowhere to be found. After they placed the statue of the soldier, there were apparently no more sightings of the ghost, as he would be able to always stand guard of his hero, just as he promised. 


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