Marco Fornaro

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The confinement – I know…..

2023-08-23 12:57

Marco Fornaro

The confinement – I know…..

My grandmother, my grandfather, the fascism... the confinement

In the middle of the Fascist period, especially after 1936 when Mussolini enjoyed absolutely undisputed authority, it could happen that he ended up in serious trouble for reasons which, in the eyes of a citizen of a modern democratic country will be literally incomprehensible, a measure not infrequently used was the "confino", an institution already present from the origins of the kingdom of Italy, but which with Fascism became a recurring practice against political opponents, against uncomfortable characters, but even against people not completely aligned with the regime, the victim of this procedure was ordered to move to a remote place, normally very far from one's home, and only the bare essentials were guaranteed for living, the "confined" was not someone who had committed a crime (for that there was directly prison) nor were "proofs" worthy of the name necessary, but as in an ante litteram "minority report" movie, it was someone suspected of being guilty of a crime, that is, someone who, according to the indisputable judgment of a local prefect's commission, could have end up committing a crime.

Fascism required not only to be careful what one said but also to pay close attention to one's attitudes, there were in fact many customs, rites and customs, from semi-compulsory participation in the fascist party, to the Duce's speeches which could at any time of the day to be transmitted through a loudspeaker, and that one was forced to listen in silence and standing up, and one had to not behave "irritatingly".

As far as I have been told, the only thing against my grandfather Marino, my grandmother Tullia's husband, was precisely these last two things: he had always avoided joining the fascist party, and if there was a speech of the Duce one could have seen him disappear in a hurry, pleading work reasons.

One bad day (testimonies say that he was cloudy, leaden) the official communication was delivered to him by the municipal messenger: in that remote village in the Venetian countryside, Cive ', would have had the honor of being the first destined for confinement.

Tullia (his wife, hers, and my maternal grandmother) returned home in the evening, on her moped, as usual decked out like an astronaut, and as usual tired from her work as a midwife in that endless conduct, cold and vaguely moody.

She didn't have time to meet her husband, the news of her was told to her by one of the women of the house, I think her own Emma (her woman-of-the-house-but-right-hand-handyman-suitable -to-dangerous-work).

(Testimonies report that) Tullia did not utter a word, did not make any facial expression distinguishable from the usual evening moodiness, did not enter the house, did not even take off that imposing jacket and gloves worthy of a porter that annoyed her so much, and remained a few endless moments staring into space….then again without opening his mouth or giving any explanation he got back on his moped and set off again towards an unknown destination.

(at this point every reference to the incident is direct testimony of my grandmother, who had unexpectedly decided to share these facts, even the most inconvenient details, with the oldest of her grandchildren, despite being a rather impertinent boy with long hair )

My grandmother reached the house of the local fascist ras, she rang and said that she had to talk to him.

When she was received privately in a room with the man she had gone to meet, she sat down (but refused to take off her jacket) and immediately all the customary pleasantries began, with phrases with a calming effect such as "I came to know about the news and I'm sorry..”, “I don't think Marino deserves it but I can't help it…”, “of course if he with his attitude….but still I know he's a good man”, my grandmother she nodded but motioned for him to stop and just let her talk.

There was a moment of silence before my grandmother pronounced the following sentences, I suppose with a firm voice and expressionless face like when she was really angry, I reproduce them below, both in Venetian dialect and English:


Mi so che so fia ga vuo un aborto

I know your daughter miscarried


So chi che la ga messa incinta

I know who made her pregnant


So da chi che ea xe ndada (ad abortir)

I know who she went to (for abortion)


…e so perfin quanto che yu’l ga paga..

…and I even know how much you paid…



At that point, perhaps also due to the persistent silence of the interlocutor, my grandmother decided to get up, she left the house without saying goodbye and without being greeted, she did put her gloves, hat and goggles back on, got back on her moped and went home.

(there are no direct or indirect testimonies of that evening at home with the family, or of the days immediately following)

In spite of the official communication…My grandfather was never sent to confinement

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