Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Italian boot Two-fer

The image of Italy as a high-heeled boot is practically inescapable. However that imagery has effectively only been possible since the unification of Italy in 1861, made possible largely through the efforts of King Victor Emmanuel II and the soldier Giuseppe Garibaldi, both giants in the history of modern Italy (and not just 'cause of that epic 'stache). Oh, sure, the Italian peninsula has always looked like that. But it has only occasionally been unified and mapped in such a way as to make the boot shape so clearly obvious (perpetually in mid-kick at the island of Sicily I might add).

Thus this 1860 cartoon, by Sir John Tenniel, captures the imagery perfectly as one of history's more memorable political cartoons.  There was actually originally a caption on this cartoon "Right leg in the boot at last" with an additional line, spoken by the Garibaldi character, that says "If it won't go on, sire, try a little more powder".  The double meaning possibly being talcum or gun powder.

Of course the imagery of Italy as a boot has come in handy for political cartoonists ever since. Among the most recent is this one by Wilfred Hildonen entitled "Berlusconi the Invulnerable" commenting on the perpetually embattled octogenarian prime minister who, despite countless suspicious activities and accusations, can't seem to be removed from power.  

And don't forget the separatist movement in northern Italy which desires to make Italy less of a boot and more of a high-heeled shoe by creating the independent nation of Padania.

There are countless examples of this Italy-as-boot imagery:  How many more can y'all find?
An actual boot that has a map of Italy on it. Wow!

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