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This study of the 1st nationwide competition of contemporary Italy traditionally reconstructs the occasion, using a mass of un-catalogued and unpublished files left by means of the organizers, which positions the Centenary as a platform upon which another definition of Italian nationwide id emerged.
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Extra info for City and Nation in the Italian Unification: The National Festivals of Dante Alighieri
Writers such as Sismonde de Sismondi embraced Dante because of the poet’s resistance to both the temporal power of the pope and to the French interference within Italian politics. 96 This latter attribution was pivotal to the Centenary project. Indeed, in understanding Dante in this manner the Centenary organizers would provide—also learn—a lesson that the Victorians possibly did not imagine. We have begun to see in this chapter that the legitimization of a nineteenth-century local site, Florence, as new capital depended on a national movement: the nationalization of Dante, and the extension of Florence itself, through the channels of civil society.
But here we are dealing with Dante, and one should not forget what we owe him. But you will ask me: what does this have to do with a national festa? It does, I’ll say it and I will prove it . . So, why do we celebrate an Italian national festa? It is obvious: we celebrate it in order to remember all the good we have done or received in this world, to be grateful towards those who were good to us, and to persevere in making progress and in trying to do good again . . But among [our] memories, we have that of Dante, which is the first of them, not only as far as the date, but also for its importance.
Long live the artistic Commission . . 63 These cultural confrontations between Florence and Turin appertain to a still larger conflict: the debates concerning the configuration of the emerging national culture. 64 The German government strove to create a homogeneous, Protestant, unified national culture. According to Smith, these policies proved divisive and unsuccessful. They paradoxically reinforced antagonistic cultural practices, inducing memories of a divided people within a politically unified state.