Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Enrico Toti (1882-1916)

Statue of Enrico Toti in Rome; much-larger-than-life muscular male nude, holding a crutch, with his left leg ending mid-thigh.  In a park setting, with blue skies.  Base is inscribed with his name and other text in Italian.

With all the WWI centenary coverage, we were moved to come across this statue at the Villa Borghese gardens, on a recent family vacation in Rome.  Enrico Toti (1882-1916) was a railway worker from Rome; his leg was lost in a workplace accident in 1906.  After that, he became a distance cyclist, riding from Rome to Lapland, and down to Egypt, to great acclaim.  At the onset of WWI, he was considered unfit for military service, but he volunteered as a bicycle courier, and became an unofficial member of the 3rd Bersaglieri Bicycle Battalion.  He died at the Sixth Battle of Isonzo, and is one of the very few civilians awarded Italy's medal for military valor.