Italian town faces backlash for 'sexist' bronze statue of 'La Spigolatrice'

The bronze sculpture of the “Spigolatrice di Sapri” is based on a famous Italian poem.
The bronze sculpture of the “Spigolatrice di Sapri” is based on a famous Italian poem. Copyright Valentino Palermo via AP
Copyright Valentino Palermo via AP
By Euronews
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The statue was unveiled during a ceremony attended by the former prime minister Giuseppe Conte in Sapri, in the southern Campania region.


Italian authorities in Sapri have defended a new bronze statue of a woman wearing a transparent dress.

The sculpture is a tribute to La Spigolatrice di Sapri (The Gleaner of Sapri), an 1857 poem written by Luigi Mercantini.

The poem refers to a female gleaner who leaves her job to join Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane's failed expedition against the Kingdom of Naples.

It was unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday in the province of Salerno, at a ceremony featuring local officials and former Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

But the statue has generated some backlash on social media, with many labeling its design "sexist" and others calling for it to be taken down.

Laura Boldrini, an MP with the centre-left Democratic party, said the monument was "an offense to women and to the history it is supposed to celebrate".

"How can even the institutions accept the representation of women as sexualised bodies," she added on Twitter.

Monica Cirinnà, a member of the Italian Senate, also stated that it was a "slap in the face to history and to women who are still only sexualised bodies."

"This statue of the Gleaner says nothing about the self-determination of the woman who chose not to go to work in order to stand up against the Bourbon oppressor".

The mayor of Sapriu has defended the statue as "a very important work of art which will be a great tourist attraction for our town".

In a post on Facebook, Antonio Gentile said that critics of the statue held "a lack of knowledge of local history".

"Our community...has always been committed to combating all forms of gender violence," he added.

La nuova statua della Spigolatrice di Sapri è stata realizzata con maestria e impeccabile interpretazione dall’artista...

Posted by Antonio Gentile - Sindaco di Sapri on Sunday, September 26, 2021

Meanwhile, the sculptor Emanuele Stifano stated that he was "appalled and disheartened" by the criticism.

"All kinds of accusations have been made against me which have nothing to do with my person and my story," Stifano said on Facebook.

"When I make a sculpture, I always tend to cover the human body as little as possible, regardless of gender."

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