Execution of members of the Resistance

On July 3rd 1944, on the orders of the Poppi CLN, a patrol of five partisans from the I and II Company of the III Btg. XIII Brigata “Pio Borri” left their base in Casa Magone in a Fiat 1100 on an important mission to pick up equipment in Arezzo. Around 2 a.m. the car was surprised at Terrossola by the II Battalion of the 3rd Brandenburg Regiment. All the members were arrested and taken to Castel Focognano. Four of them were hanged at 3 p.m. the same day from the four mulberry trees adorning the road into the village. The fifth “rebel”, a Russian named Stefano, a deserter from the Wehrmacht, was transferred by the Germans to Romagna and shot. It should be remembered that numerous partisans from the two companies affected by this dramatic event went to Castel Focognano to attempt a rescue. However, they were forced to witness the execution of their comrades without being able to intervene in any way due to the overwhelming numbers of the enemy (equipped, among other things, with armoured vehicles). Piero Pieri, a partisan of the 2nd Company wounded in the previous days, was forced to attend the execution as a warning. He was captured while still in hospital and dragged before the improvised gallows.

The Voices

Amoroso Palombi

Crediti: Località Poppi. Riprese e intervista di Pier Angelo Bonazzoli realizzata il 27/04/2017

The Signs

Memorial stone to four partisans hanged at Castel Focognano


Place of placement: Roadside

Date of placement: 01/10/1971


The memorial stone is situated on an embankment on the roadside with three steps leading up to it. The base is a stone cube bearing the epigraph with the names of the 4 Martyrs in bronze lettering. On it stands a stone column with a pyramidal top, in the centre of which is a bronze votive lamp and a hook on which to hang a wreath.

Personal observations

News and contextualisation

On July 4th 1944, partisans from the III Battaglione "Licio Nencetti" of the XXIII Brigata Garibaldi "Pio Borri" (Arezzo Division) had to go to Arezzo to pick up two machine-guns and their ammunition from the CPLN. With a car they had requisitioned and hidden on Monte Fallito, the partisans Giuseppe Antonio Ceccaroni, Andrea Francavilla and another whose name is unknown to us, set off equipped with false "Todt" documentation. They were escorted as far as Terrossola (a village outside Bibbiena) by other comrades of the 1st and 2nd Companies. These then returned to their camp so as not to attract too much attention. Only Ceccaroni remained with Niccolino Niccolini, Leonello Lenzi, Elio Vannucci and a former Soviet prisoner of war. In the area of Monte Fallito and in the territory of Castel Focognano (Arezzo), a rounding-up operation by German troops was taking place at the same time. The partisans were unaware of this and while they were above Terrossola they were captured and taken to the Castel Focognano headquarters. In the late morning, the second-in-command and two men of the 1st Company set out from the partisan headquarters in Pretella to gather news of their captured comrades and of the location and size of the enemy. When they got close to the enemy positions they were spotted and attacked, but managed to disengage and return to their camp. The inhabitants of Castel Focognano also contacted the partisans begging them not to attack the Germans to avoid reprisals against them and the village. In the meantime four of the five captured partisans, who had been beaten, were taken to the priest's house where they found another of their comrades, Piero Pieri, who had been hiding in the local school after being wounded in combat on June 24th near Ortignano (Ar). He too had been taken prisoner on the same day. Fortunately, another partisan who was with him had got rid of Pieri's pistol and belongings before fleeing. Lenzi and Pieri knew each other but pretended to ignore each other and barely exchanged a word. Then all the prisoners were led out of the rectory and put together with a group of civilians that had been rounded up. There were also some fascists there who took pleasure in beating, insulting and threatening to kill them. The interrogations began and Pieri, after denying having anything to do with the "rebels" but admitting to knowing of an Allied airdrop, was taken to the school. Later he was picked up and taken, along with the other captured partisans, to the fountain on the side of the town square. Two German soldiers told the young Pieri, who was sitting exhausted on the rim of the fountain, to watch carefully and remember the scene he was about to witness: the four others were seized by their executioners and hanged one by one from the trees in the square. Niccolino Niccolini (1st Company), born in Bibbiena (Ar) (1) on April 1st 1923, resident in Terrossola and employed at the "Sacci" cement factory; Leonello Lenzi (2) ("Fischino") (2nd Company), born on July 7th 1921, a weaver from Soci; Elio Vannucci (Headquarters Company), born on September 1st 1922, labourer in Bibbiena; and Giuseppe Antonio Ceccaroni, born in Cesena on August 14th 1915, resident in the hamlet of Macerone, labourer, married (member of the XXIX Garibaldi Brigata "Gastone Sozzi" operating in Romagna): all of them died with courage and dignity Then Pieri fainted and when he came to he found himself back in his room. The Germans and fascists had left, so he went to see the bodies of the martyrs. It was only later that villagers removed the bodies from the trees and took them to the chapel in the local cemetery. After their burial, the first patrols of partisans arrived in Castel Focognano and picked up Pieri with a horse to get him to safety in the mountains. Nothing more was heard of the former Russian prisoner, whose name is also unknown. Niccolini and Vannucci are now buried in the cemetery of Bibbiena, while Lenzi is laid to rest in the Chapel of Martyrs in the cemetery of Soci. NOTES 1) On the tomb his place of birth is given as Castel Focognano. 2) His surname is also spelt Lensi, as on his tomb.


Author: Alessandro Bargellini