The Martyrs of Pizzocalvo

Among the many fallen during the Second World War, there were also eight innocents of the hamlet of Pizzocalvo.
Generale Lanfranco Roccetti Ex Comandante Gruppo Speciale AUC

The hills surrounding Bologna are well known for their beauty. They represent a natural haven of relaxation and peace for citizens who, in the summer season, at a distance of a few kilometres from the centre find fresh air and tranquility. In time of war, however, tragic events happened on those hills as well. After the summer following the fall of Fascism, on July 25, 1943, the Germans initiated Operation Acshe. Planned to avoid an Italian defection from the war still in progress, it transformed Italy into a battlefield without sparing even the small towns. Among these, the municipality of San Lazzaro di Savena, near the city of Bologna. The town was occupied by German soldiers, who established their headquarters on the Croara hills, in Villa Rusconi-Rizzi, while the Republican Fascist Party requisitioned the municipal offices. Such injustices unleashed the souls of the inhabitants who tried by all means to support the clandestine army of the Resistance and who, for this, were often punished unjustly. A few kilometres from San Lazzaro, in the hamlet of Pizzocalvo, on July 3, 1944, a terrible thing happened. The fascists of the so-called black brigades and the German soldiers of the SS arrived in the countryside by truck. House by house, field by field, they went to round up the men they considered collaborators and fighters for the Resistance.


Commemorative plaque on the site of the massacre - Pizzocalvo, San Lazzaro di Savena

Civilians, farmers, family men: Ernesto Fini, Ermenegildo Giardini, Vittorio Giardini, Nerino Lolli, Antonio Marzaduri, Augusto Marzaduri, Guido Minarini and Luigi Nannetti. Eight men, eight victims, eight lives vanished into thin air. Indeed, because after being brutally torn from their families, they were murdered and buried in secret. The official version diffused by the authorities said that they had been taken to Carpi to be transferred to Germany but that, during the transport, they had tried to escape and had been shot. The bodies, actually buried in a ditch near the Croara, were discovered only at the end of the war. Of the eight martyrs of Pizzocalvo, none had ever expressed extremist positions. They were simple workers who were not interested in politics. Granted, they probably didn't have any particular sympathy for Nazi-fascism like most of their fellow citizens, with the only fault being that they fell to a vendetta of local troublemakers.


To remember them, there is a plaque and a stone by sculptor Luigi Mattei. The territory of San Lazzaro di Savena was heavily bombed on April 15, 1945, by the United States Air Force, leaving, at the end of the conflict, an area without infrastructure, fields, aqueducts, electricity. A region, a country, a small world devastated.


So many victims, including civilians, partisans and those who fell in battle. A number that is always too high, to which we must add the eight innocents of Pizzocalvo, forgotten for too long, brutally taken away from their loved ones, victims that we have to remember so that those injustices are never repeated, ever again.


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