Showing posts with label Grosseto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grosseto. Show all posts

14 April 2024

Randolfo Pacciardi – anti-Fascist and journalist

Valiant republican opposed Mussolini and served his country

Pacciardi had to flee Italy when Mussolini outlawed all opposition
Pacciardi had to flee Italy when
Mussolini outlawed all opposition
Ardent anti-Fascist Randolfo Pacciardi, who was Deputy Prime Minister and then Minister of Defence for the Italian Government between 1948 and 1953, died on this day in 1991 in Rome.

Pacciardi had to live abroad in exile for many years after the Fascists outlawed all opposition parties in 1926, but he was able to return to Italy in 1944 after the liberation of Rome.

He was born in 1899 in Giuncarico in the province of Grosseto in Tuscany. By the time he was 16 years old, Pacciardi had become a member of the Partito Repubblicano Italiano (PRI) the Italian Republican Party. 

He was a supporter of Italy’s participation in World War I and enrolled in the officers’ school of the Italian Army. He took part in the fighting and received two silver medals and a bronze medal for military valour, a British military cross and a French croix de guerre.

After receiving a law degree from the University of Siena in 1921, Pacciardi wrote for a local newspaper in the city.

In 1922 he went to live in Rome, where he became an opponent of the violent Fascist squads of the time, and he established Italia Libera, an anti-Fascist veterans’ organisation. They were one of the few groups to plan for armed opposition to Benito Mussolini after the assassination of the socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti. They were also one of the first groups to be banned by the Fascist Government in 1925.

When the Fascists outlawed all rival parties in 1926, Pacciardi was sentenced to five years of internal exile, but he was able to escape to Austria.

Luigi Einuadi was among Pacciardi's colleagues in postwar governmen
Luigi Einuadi was among Pacciardi's
colleagues in postwar government
Helped by Ernesta Battisti, the widow of patriot Cesare Battisti, he moved to live in Lugano in Switzerland.

He helped other anti-Fascists with logistical support, including a future president of Italy, Sandro Pertini, for whom he procured a counterfeit passport.

He helped organise troops during the Spanish Civil war in which he himself was wounded. Then he moved to Paris, where he founded a magazine, La Giovine Italia, which was named after the Young Italy movement launched by Giuseppe Mazzini in the 19th century.

The German invasion of France forced Pacciardi to flee to America with his wife, Luigia, and they managed to get to New York after travelling through South America on false documents. 

After Pacciardi’s return to Italy towards the end of the war, he became national secretary of the Partito Repubblicano Italiano and was elected to the constituent assembly of Italy in 1946. With the end of the monarchy in Italy, the Republican Party entered a coalition government for the first time.

He became a Deputy Prime Minister with Liberal Luigi Einaudi and Social Democrat Giuseppe Saragat. He was elected to Parliament in 1948 and served as defence minister until 1953, supporting Italian membership of NATO.

Pacciardi's tomb in the municipal cemetery at Grosseto after his death in 1991
Pacciardi's tomb in the municipal cemetery at
Grosseto after his death in 1991
In 1963, when Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro set up a cabinet that included Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI) ministers for the first time in 16 years, Pacciardi voted against it and he found himself excluded from his own party.

He founded a new party, the Democratic Union for the New Republic, but his party failed to attract many votes in the 1968 election. 

In 1974 he was accused of plotting an attempted coup against the government but the charges against him were later dropped. In 1979 he asked to be readmitted to the PRI and this was granted. In his final years he was a supporter of Prime Minister Bettino Craxi.

Pacciardi died from a stroke on 14 April 1991 at the age of 92. The President of Italy, Francesco Cossiga, granted him a state funeral and he was buried in the municipal cemetery of Grosseto.

During his long life, Pacciardi became a friend of Ernest Hemingway and he also advised Michael Curtiz on the making of Casablanca.

The polygonal Palazzo Aldobrandeschi is one of Grosseto's curiosities
The polygonal Palazzo Aldobrandeschi
is one of Grosseto's curiosities
Travel tip:

Grosseto is the largest town of the Maremma region of Tuscany, with approximately 65,000 inhabitants. Located in the alluvial plain of the Ombrone river, about 14km from the Tyrrhenian sea, the town grew in importance several centuries ago because of the trade in salt, that was obtained in salt pans in the now reclaimed lagoon that covered most of the area between Grosseto and the sea.  By 1328, the silting up of the lagoon robbed Grosseto of its salt revenues, after which is became largely depopulated, vulnerable to outbreaks of malaria caused by the mosquitos that thrived in the marshy areas surrounding the town. It began to expand again in the 19th century. Tourists today are drawn to visit by the walls begun by Francesco I de Medici in 1574, by the Romanesque cathedral, dedicated to St. Lawrence, and by the polygonal Palazzo Aldobrandeschi, on Piazza Dante, seat of the provincial government.

The well-preserved mediaeval village of Giuncarico in Tuscany has a hilltop location
The well-preserved mediaeval village of Giuncarico
in Tuscany has a hilltop location
Travel tip:

Giuncarico, where Pacciardi was born, is a charming and well-preserved mediaeval village, built on a hill overlooking the Bruna river. Founded in the eighth or ninth century, the village was once under the rule of the noble Albobrandeschi family and later became part of the Republic of Siena before joining the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in the 16th century.  It is known for its protective walls, built in the 1100s with two stone-arch gateways into the village, with historic palaces along Via Roma, dating back to the 1400s and 1500s. Despite its small size, with just 449 residents, the village offers a few shops, cafes, and restaurants. The Piazza del Popolo, halfway along Via Roma, offers a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. The area is also notable for several wineries, including the celebrated Rocca di Frassinello, which is approximately 15 minutes outside the village by road. Situated about 80km (50 miles) southwest of Siena, Giuncarico is some 25km (16 miles) north of Grosseto. 

Also on this day:

1488: The death of papal military leader Girolamo Riario

1609: The death of violin maker Gasparo da Salò

1907: The first Milan-Sanremo cycle race

1920: The birth of Olympic bobsleigh champion Lamberto Dalla Costa

1980: The death of children's author Gianni Rodari

(Picture credits: Pacciardi tomb by Sofocle77; Palazzo Aldobrandeschi by Sailko; Giuncarico skyline by LigaDue; via Wikimedia Commons)


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14 December 2018

Luciano Bianciardi - novelist and translator

Writer who brought contemporary American literature to Italian audiences


Luciano Bianciardi devoted much of his life to literature
Luciano Bianciardi devoted
much of his life to literature
The journalist, novelist and translator Luciano Bianciardi, who was responsible for putting the work of most of the outstanding American authors of the 20th century into Italian, was born on this day in 1922 in Grosseto in Tuscany.

Bianciardi translated novels by such writers as Saul Bellow, Henry Miller, William Faulkner and Norman Mailer, who were read in the Italian language for the first time thanks to his understanding of the nuances of their style.

He also wrote novels of his own, the most successful of which was La vita agra (1962; published in English as It’s a Hard Life), which was made into a film, directed by Carlo Lizzani and starring Ugo Tognazzi.

Bianciardi, whose father, Atide, was a bank cashier, developed an appreciation for learning from his mother, Adele, who was an elementary school teacher.

At the same time he acquired a lifelong fascination with Garibaldi and the Risorgimento, after his father gave him a book by a local author, Giuseppe Bandi, about Garibaldi’s Expedition of the Thousand.

Bianciardi struggled to control his drinking late in his life
Bianciardi struggled to control
his drinking late in his life
Bianciardi’s university education was interrupted by the Second World War. He witnessed the bombing of Foggia, where the army unit to which he was assigned had the grim task of tending to the wounded and recovering the bodies of the dead. It was not long afterwards that Italy negotiated the 1943 armistice with the Allies, for whom he then worked as an interpreter.

He resumed his education at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, where he graduated in philosophy. His circle of friends were mainly writers with liberal socialist political leanings and he was briefly a member of Il Partito d’Azione - the Action Party - until it folded in 1947. The following year he married his first wife, Adria, with whom he would have two children.

His entry into the literary world came at the invitation of the municipality of Grosseto, who asked him to reorganise their civic library, which had been badly damaged by the bombings of 1943 and the floods of the following year. Later he became the library director and a passionate promoter of cultural initiatives such as the bibliobus, a van that took books into the hamlets and and scattered farms around the town.

The cover of the Feltrinelli edition of his most famous book, La vita agra
The cover of the Feltrinelli edition of
his most famous book, La vita agra
He began to write for newspapers and, in 1956, published his first book, The Miners of the Maremma, which followed an investigation he launched with his friend and political ally, the writer Carlo Cassola, for the newspaper L’Avanti into the harsh conditions in which the miners in this Tuscan coastal territory worked and the poverty in which their families lived, which he encountered at first hand through his bibliobus scheme.

Bianciardi over time became a prolific writer for newspapers and magazines on all manner of subjects, on political matters but also cultural topics.  He was a film and television critic, and at times wrote about sport for magazines such as Guerin Sportivo.

He forged his reputation as a translator after moving to Milan to work for the Feltrinelli publishing house, developing a relationship that continued even after the company, frustrated with his poor timekeeping and clashes over their editorial policy, decided they could no longer employ him on a permanent, formal basis.

He worked his way through most of the major American writers. Among more than 100 texts that he translated into Italian were Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King, John Steinbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent and Travels with Charley, Jack London's John Barleycorn, J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man and William Faulkner's A Fable and The Mansion.

At the same time, he began to write novels of his own, his stories often having a theme of rebellion against the cultural establishment, or else the lives of ordinary Italians during the so-called ‘economic miracle’ years of the 1950s and '60s.

Ugo Tognazzi in a scene from the movie based on Luciano Bianciardi's book, La vita agra
Ugo Tognazzi in a scene from the movie based on
Luciano Bianciardi's book, La vita agra
La vita agra is considered his finest work, published by Rizzoli in 1962.  Acclaimed by the critics, it sold 5,000 copies with a couple of weeks of its appearance in the book shops. It brought Bianciardi fame almost overnight.

His other works include Il lavoro culturale - Cultural Work; L’integrazione - Integration; La battaglia soda - The Soda-Water Battle; and Aprire il fuoco - Setting the Fire.

Bianciardi, who had a third child by Maria Jatosti, with whom he worked at Feltrinelli, bought a house at Rapallo, on the Italian Riviera in Liguria about 30km (19 miles) east of Genoa, while keeping his home in the Brera district of Milan.

A heavy drinker through much of his life, he died at the age of just 49 in 1971, suffering from liver disease.  His last book, a comprehensive biography of Garibaldi, was published posthumously in 1972.

Grosseto's Romanesque cathedral, viewed from the Via Daniele Manin
Grosseto's Romanesque cathedral, viewed
from the Via Daniele Manin
Travel tip:

Bianciardi’s home town of Grosseto is the largest town of the Maremma region of Tuscany, with approximately 65,000 inhabitants. Located in the alluvial plain of the Ombrone river, about 14km from the Tyrrhenian sea, the town grew in importance several centuries ago because of the trade in salt, that was obtained in salt pans in the now reclaimed lagoon that covered most of the area between Grosseto and the sea.  By 1328, the silting up of the lagoon robbed Grosseto of its salt revenues, after which is became largely depopulated, vulnerable to outbreaks of malaria caused by the mosquitos that thrived in the marshy areas surrounding the town. It began to expand again in the 19th century. Tourists today are drawn to visit by the walls begun by Francesco I de Medici in 1574, and by the Romanesque cathedral, dedicated to St. Lawrence.

Search tripadvisor for a hotel in Grosseto

Rapallo's Castello sul Mare was built in 1551 to deter pirates from attacking the Ligurian coastal town
Rapallo's Castello sul Mare was built in 1551 to deter pirates
from attacking the Ligurian coastal town
Travel tip: 

Rapallo, while somewhat overshadowed by its exclusive neighbour Portofino, is an attractive seaside town of the eastern Italian Riviera, known as the Riviera di Levante. The town developed around a harbour guarded by a small castle – Il Castello sul Mare – built in 1551 to repel pirate attacks, which sits right on the water’s edge.  Look out also for the 12th century Basilica of Saints Gervasius and Protasius, two historic towers and a ruined monastery, along with a network of narrow streets to explore. There are boat services to Portofino, as well as Santa Margherita Ligure and Camogli, while the main Genoa to Pisa railway line passes through the town.


More reading:

How Cesare Pavesi introduced foreign writers to Fascist Italy

Why novelist Leonardo Sciascia was the scourge of corrupt politicians

The comic genius of La Cage aux Folles star Ugo Tognazzi

Also on this day:

1784: The birth of Neapolitan princess Maria Antonia

1853: The birth of anarchist Errico Malatesta

1966: The birth of racing driver Fabrizio Giovanardi


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30 January 2016

Elsa Martinelli – actress


Tuscan beauty was spotted by Kirk Douglas


The actress Elsa Martinelli in a 1965 appearance in the TV show The Rogues
The actress Elsa Martinelli in a 1965
appearance in the TV show The Rogues
Actress and former model Elsa Martinelli was born Elisa Tia on this day in 1935 in Grosseto.

She moved to Rome with her family as a teenager and was discovered by designer Roberto Capucci in 1953 while working as a barmaid in the city.

Her stunning looks helped her to become a successful fashion model and she eventually began playing small parts in films.

As Elsa Martinelli she appeared in Claude Autant-Lara’s Le Rouge et Le Noir in 1954.

Her first important role came a year later when Kirk Douglas is said to have seen her on a magazine cover and told his production company to hire her to appear opposite him in the film, The Indian Fighter.

In 1956 she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival for playing the title role in Mario Monicelli’s Donatella.

Martinelli married Count Franco Mancinelli Scotti di San Vito and they had a daughter, Cristiana, in 1958.

Ten years later, after she had split up with her first husband, Martinelli married photographer and furniture designer Willy Rizzo.

In the 1950s and 1960s she attended lavish parties and events in Rome with celebrities such as Anita Ekberg, Maria Callas, Sophia Loren, Carlo Ponti and Harold Robbins.

More reading: Federico Fellini, film director, born 20 January, 1920

Martinelli went on to have a long string of film and television credits to her name.

She appeared in the 1992 comedy film Once Upon a Time and most recently in the television series, Orgoglio, in 2005.

The cathedral in Grossetto, Tuscany, birthplace of Elsa Martinelli
The Cathedral in Grosseto
Photo by Waugsberg (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Travel tip:

Grosseto, where Elsa Martinelli was born and lived as a child, is in the centre of Tuscany, about 14 kilometers from the sea and surrounded by walls commissioned by Francesco I de Medici in the 16th century, There is a 13th century Cathedral with a façade of black and white marble as well as many beautiful old palaces in the centre of the city.


Travel tip:

Rome in the late 1950s and early 1960s was considered the most desirable place in the world in which to party. The economy was booming, designers, such as Roberto Capucci, had made the city synonymous with the word glamour and American directors flocked to make their films at Cinecittà, the studio complex south of the city. This golden era is epitomised by Federico Fellini’s film La dolce vita (The Sweet Life), featuring Marcello Mastroianni as a reporter who follows every move of the celebrities who frequent Rome’s exclusive nightclubs and live in the city’s historic, aristocratic villas.






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