Forgotten Italian face of Beyoglu: Casa Garibaldi

150-year-old association of Italians living in Istanbul to be transformed into cultural venue

Forgotten Italian face of Beyoglu: Casa Garibaldi

World Bulletin/News Desk

'Casa Garibaldi,' also known as "Societa Operaia Italiana di Mutuo Soccorso in Costantinopoli," a fraternal association founded by Italian workers in 1863 in Istanbul's historical Beyoglu region is transformed into a cultural venue to be opened as soon as the restoration will be finished.

While walking on the Istiklal Street towards the tunnel, Casa Garibaldi, after 150 years is still a beautiful Italian building to be gazed, which was named after one of Italy's founding fathers and first president of the association, Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had united Italy in 1861.  

 Only two years after Italy was united by Garibaldi, the Italian workers in Istanbul founded the building with the ideology that they were all 'Italian' on May 17, 1863, according to the originally registered documents of the building. 

Being active with eight members, the independent association still meets once a year and reports it to the Department of Associations of Turkey.   

Initiated by the Italian Consulate General in Istanbul, the 'forgotten face of Beyoglu' is restored to come back from the dead under the coordinatorship of Arts Historian Sedat Bornovali, who directs the restoration of Casa Garibaldi. 

"We not only deal with the restoration of the building, but try to reveal a whole culture," Bornovali said, adding 2700 books from the library and several glass and pottery was taken out from the building.

Glasses dating back to the Byzantine period, pots and pans of daily use, pieces from the catholic church and even a piece of a cistern were amongst the discoveries of the team, of which some are renewed and listed properly to be placed within the building.   

Including 273-year-old 'Accademia della Crusca', a print of the first dictionary of the Italian language in 1741, the unique handwritten books of the library were digitized with the help of a professional photographer and within a short of time curious readers from all around the world will have the chance to read those books for free through a flickr account. 

 Both sent and received letters of the Societa Operaia of the Italian workers and their detailed identifications with names, birthplaces and the professions were recorded between 1864-1867 besides all official reports of the meetings of the plenary session and administrative board since 1864, Bornovali added.   

"People from abroad also may have the chance to find their relatives through the names recorded in these books and the registers," he stressed.   

 Bornovali also underlined they wanted the building to become 'an open platform' of 1,000 square meters, where various pieces of the building will be served as a museum, students of architecture and archeology or similar departments of universities can conduct research and where instructors from same departments can teach their lessons.

"In the upper-floor, meetings can be organised, important exhibitions be presented, chamber music recitals may listened to or some special dinners may take place. An elevator made of glass will be placed from outside for the disabled visitors and we'll add a top floor to be used for offices without harming the original building," Bornovali stated. "We even work on to intend to get the basement floor be visited to see the original floor tiles. There are original Malta-stones and floor tiles made in Milano."       

 As the restoration will not be finished before 2014, some of the pieces of Casa Garibaldi will be presented temporarily within the Italian Consulate General in Istanbul, which will be open for all visitors. 

Bornovali also stated he was preparing a small catalogue for the pieces, where informations will appear in for the pieces to be presented in the waiting and meeting rooms of the Consulate.

A flag for the 50th anniversary of Societa Operaia Association in 1913, which was restored by nuns of a monastery in Lake Orta in northern Italy and an original print of Edmondo de Amicis' 'Constantinopoli' with the gravures of famous painter Cesare Biseo will be amongst the works to be presented in the museum.


Last Mod: 01 Mart 2014, 22:44
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