Casa al Vento on Monte Secchieta


Execution of members of the Resistance

As a result of a major rounding-up operation on Monte Falterona, about thirty partisans of the 22nd Brigata bis Garibaldi of the “Storai Group”, and a small Catholic formation linked to Giorgio La Pira (among whom the name of Franco Zeffirelli stands out), on April 15th moved from Gattaiola (Londa) to Casa al Vento, where they spent the night. The next morning, while part of the band was heading for Reggello in search of supplies, the base was attacked by German units and a division of the Florence GNR Youth Company, commanded by Captain Ferdinando Bacoccoli, belonging to the Special Services Department (RSS) of Via Bolognese 67 (Villa Triste), the ill-famed Banda Carità. Many of the more experienced partisans manage to break out of the encirclement, alerting their comrades and preventing further disaster. For four partisans, however, there was no escape. Franco Zeffirelli wrote of this episode: “Late one night, the alarm was raised: the Germans and fascists were surrounding us from all sides; the order was to retreat as fast as possible. We elders knew exactly what to do and how to disappear into the woods, but many boys who had just joined us stayed behind, uncertain and confused. We shouted at them to follow us, to leave their weapons and everything, but they panicked and were captured… The next morning we cautiously returned to the hill above the village, well hidden by the bushes. I have never seen a more shocking sight in my life. On the trees lining the main street of the village below us, the bodies of the boys were hanging from barbed wire or butchers’ hooks. We could hear the moaning and wailing of their families… Nothing I have seen has ever shocked me as much as that terrible sight. Later, much later, in my work, I often rummaged through my memories in search of images. When I shot my scene of the crucifixion of Jesus, the horror of that morning filled my heart again: a mother prostrate on the ground, weeping for her dead son hanging like Christ from the branch of a tree, with German soldiers marching about relentlessly like Roman centurions”.
During the same operation, prisoners were also taken. Four of them were deported and then executed, or died in Germany, while two others (Raffaele Andreoni and an unknown man) were imprisoned at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence and condemned to death by the Special Tribunal on May 2nd 1944. The sentence was carried out on May 3rd 1944 at the Cascine Shooting Range.