Now, let me be patriotic for a second.
The 25th of April 1945, Italy was officially liberated by the Fascist and Nazi oppression.
Seventy-one years later, we take out our flags and shrug the dust off of them, to let them flatter in the wind.
Everybody knows the official history, the one we learn at school: it was the Second World War in Italy like everywhere else, people were sent to Germany every other day and Fascist were ruling the country, while nucleus of partisans fought an invisible war against them.
It was the 8th of September 1944 (7 months before the Liberation), when an armistice was signed with the allies. In theory, this should have been the final push for the Resistance to take over, with the help of the Americans, who were coming up from the South. In truth, things went differently.
While silence was kept in Italy, so to surprise the Fascist opponent, the allies broadcast the news of the Armistice – a piece of news that Germany was quick to pick up. As a result, Nazi defenses were hardened and, while the Resistance was decimated by retaliation, the Americans were having a hard time passing Rome.
For this reason, it took another 7 months, before Italian people could call themselves free once again.
This is a piece of history that we (as Italians) should proudly keep in our hearts. Thankfully, most of us do.
However (and this is the book-part of the post), it’s a piece of history that didn’t come to life for me until I read a book written by an English man who served as soldier during the Second World War in Italy.
He is Eric Newby and the book is ‘Love and War in the Apennines’.
The story is a telling of what happened to him after being captured by the Fascist forces in Sicily.
He was a prisoner for a while, but then managed to escape and found refuge in the Apennines, where the local people gave him shelter, food, and friendship.
It’s also the story about how he met his wife, which gives those romantic brushstrokes to the landscape.
Today, I think back to that book and to all the people who have helped Eric during his days in the mountains and I am proud to think that we are really not just pizza, spaghetti, and mandolin. We are much, much more.
If you want to know more about ‘Love and War in the Apennines’ by Eric Newby, you can have a look at its Goodreads Page.