The Janiculum has become a memorial park dedicated to the legacy of the Roman Republic, a short-lived republican government that took over the city of Rome from the Papacy in the years of the Italian Risorgimento. This led to the unification of the country in 1861. Since 1849, this hill has been adorned with several busts and equestrian monuments.
Among the great Italian and foreign names who spilled blood for the republican cause, a small monument celebrates the tragic death of a young Roman boy, Righetto. Righetto was a 12-year old orphan who made deliveries for a baker in Trastevere along with his loyal dog Sgrullarella.
In 1849, French troops laid siege to the Janiculum and the western walls of the city of Rome. On June 29, Righetto attempted to defuse a bomb that had fallen near Ponte Sisto and died when the bomb exploded. At the time, the government offered monetary compensation for every defused bomb and Righetto’s death was seen as tragic and heroic in the war-torn city.
In 1851, one of Giuseppe Garibaldi’s men, Count Litta, had a heroic statue of Righetto crafted for him by Giovanni Strazza and a bronze copy was added to the park in 2005. The inscription on the monument reads: “To Righetto, the young Trastevere boy symbol of the fallen youth who defended the glorious Roman Republic of 1849.”