Saturday, September 29, 2007

Andreas Hofer

Fall has finally come to Boston, too, after a freakishly hot Wednesday with temps above 90. In our New England, fall is the best season, as it is (I believe) in one of my favorite Italian regions, Alto Adige. So that my thoughts naturally turn there.

Mark Twain said (all too correctly) that we have too much weather in New England. Alto Adige/Suedtirol/South Tyrol has too much history, especially for such a small, isolated area. Its hero is the innkeeper and horse and wine trader Andreas Hofer (1767-1810).

Andreas (what a beautiful name) left his inn, his horses and wine, and led an insurrection for little Tyrol against, of all people, Napoleon. As I have never liked that Corsican gentleman, this already endears me to Hofer (not to mention his interest in horses and wine, which I also like).

Well. Andreas lost. He was executed in Mantua in 1810. You might say, well, of course, what can you expect of this little guy against Napoleon's France? Except that pretty much in the same time frame, our Minutemen from Massachusetts, who were also rural rustic types minding their own business, eventually led a revolution that defeated the British and started us on our road to being the pre-eminent power in the world today. And now the Minuteman is the LGM-30 Minuteman, an ICBM. We've gone from the Lexington and Concord farmer-warrior to inter-continental nuclear missiles.

Why these disparate outcomes? And who is really the winner or the loser?