Showing posts with label Italian Republican Party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian Republican Party. 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)


4 August 2017

Giovanni Spadolini - politician

The first non-Christian Democrat to lead Italian Republic

Giovanni Spadolini in 1987
Giovanni Spadolini in 1987
Giovanni Spadolini, who was the Italian Republic’s first prime minister not to be drawn from the Christian Democrats and was one of Italy's most respected politicians, died on this day in 1994.

In a country where leading politicians and businessman rarely survive a whole career without becoming embroiled in one corruption scandal or another, he went to the grave with his reputation for honesty intact.

Although he was an expert on Italian unification and became a professor of contemporary history at the University of Florence when he was only 25, a background that gave him a deep knowledge of Italian politics, he first built a career as a journalist.

He became a political columnist for several magazines and newspapers, including Il Borghese, Il Mondo and Il Messaggero, and was appointed editor of the Bologna daily II Resto del Carlino in 1955, at the age of 30.

In 1968, having doubled Il Resto’s circulation, he left Bologna to become the editor at Corriere della Sera, in Milan, where he remained until 1972.  It was while editing the Corriere that he became known for his anti-extremist stance, condemning violent student activists on the left and terrorists on the right in equal measure.

Under his stewardship, the Corriere took a strong anti-Communist stance, provoking attacks on its offices by angry demonstrators. Once, a stone thrown by a demonstrator smashed through Spadolini’s office window. He picked it up and placed it on his desk, where it remained throughout his time as editor, as a reminder of the turmoil brought about by political extremism.

Prime Minister Spadolini with the Italian president, Sandro Pertini
Prime Minister Spadolini (right) with the
Italian president, Sandro Pertini
During his time in Milan, Spadolini was persuaded to enter politics. In 1972, after leaving the Corriere, he was elected senator as an independent with the Republican Party. He was appointed Minister of Cultural Affairs in Aldo Moro’s cabinet in 1974.

He became leader of the Italian Republican Party in 1979, a position he held until 1987, and in 1981 he was chosen to be Italy's first non-Christian-Democrat prime minister by the Socialist President, Sandro Pertini.

In partnership, these two men did much to restore the credibility of Italy's political institutions after years of terrorist violence and the scandal of the secret P2 Masonic lodge, a secret society that included politicians, businessmen, some high-ranking military officers and policemen, that attempted to create a ‘state within a state.’  Spadolini introduced laws suppressing secret organisations.

It was during Spadolini’s time in office that the anti-terrorist unit of the Italian police freed the United States general James Lee Dozier, who had been kidnapped by the Red Brigades.  He also achieved a drop in inflation from 22 per cent to 16 per cent during his 18 months in office.

Spadolini, born into a bourgeois Florentine family, was known as a connoisseur of good food and drink and his wide girth became the target of Italy's political cartoonists.

Yet, in the 1983 national election, the Republican Party capitalised on Spadolini's popularity, realising 5.1 per cent of the vote, the highest they had achieved.

The Spadolini villa outside Florence is now the home of a cultural foundation
The Spadolini villa outside Florence is
now the home of a cultural foundation
He became dismayed at a new class of politician emerging at that time, whom he felt were preoccupied with grabbing the spoils of power rather than healing the ills of the country. As the speaker of the Senate from 1987, Spadolini regularly underlined his concern for Italy's institutions.

From 1987 to April 1994, he was president of the Italian Senate and, for a month in 1992, acting president of Italy, following the resignation of Francesco Cossiga. 

After the electoral success of Silvio Berlusconi's House of Freedoms party, he lost the presidency of the Senate to Carlo Scognamiglio Pasini by a single vote. He died four months later in Rome.

In his villa at Pian dei Giulliari, in the countryside near Florence, Spadolini left a library containing some 70,000 volumes on contemporary history and the 19th century. The villa became home to a cultural foundation dedicated to the study of Italian unity.

Casa Spadolini at 28 Via Cavour in Florence
Casa Spadolini at 28 Via Cavour in Florence
Travel tip:

Spadolini’s home until 1978 was at 28 Via Cavour, one of the principal streets in the northern part of the historic centre of Florence, a four-storey palazzo that had been acquired by his grandfather.  Spadolini kept the house as his main residence even while he was editing in Bologna and Milan and serving the country in Rome. He left for the family villa in Pian dei Giullari after the death of his mother.

Travel tip:

Pian dei Giullari is a picturesque village in the hills some 5km (3 miles) south of Florence.  Many villas line the Via Pian dei Giullari that runs through the village. The Spadolini Foundation is at number 139. On the same street can be found Il Gioiello, where the physicist, mathematician and astronomer Galileo Galilei spent his last years.