Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow
Marzabotto, Italy, March 29, 2006
This has been a really good day. I was keen to speak to partisans from a Garibaldi Brigade, as were ostensibly Communist, and Julia managed to track down former members of the 8th Garibaldi Brigade who operated in the mountains south of Forli. She had arranged to meet a number of them at the ANPI offices in Forli, so that’s where we headed first thing. Signor Mateucci was Julia’s contact and he told us he had arranged to take us back to some of their old haunts. So after chatting to a number of people in the offices, we headed out with Signor Mateucci and Signor Miserocchi and drove south into the mountains. Both men had great stories to tell. Jader Miserocchi had been a Communist, although he admitted his political beliefs were more a kind of socialism rather than Soviet-style Communism. He had only very narrowly avoided execution in Ravenna for publicly admitting to being a Commie, but had managed to escape from prison and then headed to the hills. We met another former partisan in Galeata, where we had a long and fascinating lunch, which reminded me of my day with Stephen Hastings and Muro and Co nearly two years before. The old men had a heated discussion about modern politics and the newcomer had to be quietened by the others for speaking out too loudly against Berlusconi. All three vowed to leave Italy if the PM got re-elected. After lunch the other man went on his way, but not before he’d given me some gruesome photographs of his father being executed in early 1944.
We drove on to Santa Sofia, where we met some more ex-partisans, including two staffettas (women messengers), then took a trip right up into the mountains where they had fought a big battle with the Germans. After this, we finally headed back to Forli, where we interviewed Signors Mateucci and Miserocchi some more.
It was getting dark when we finally said goodbye and headed back towards Bologna. All the interviews we’ve done this week have been fantastic, and I’ve certainly now got a much better picture of how the Partisans operated, and more to the point, the part politics played in band such as the 8th Garibaldi. I am certain now that it was less important amongst the majority of partisans than has often been suggested.
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