Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Bologna, March 21 2003
Every so often I find myself getting a lead and then feeling a colossal sense of urgency to follow it up. When I read about the massacre at Marzabotto for the first time, I knew I had to find out more right away, even though I am principally working on my North Africa book. It has been surprisingly easy to track survivors down. The massacre may be little known about generally, but it’s understandably still a big deal in Marzabotto, where there is an archive dedicated to the history of the area and, of course, the massacre itself. Anna Salerno is the person I’ve been corresponding with – thankfully she speaks English well enough. It’s my old friend Roddy, though, who has really been my saviour. We shared a house together at university but he’s married an Italian and has been living near Florence for the past few years; moreover, he speaks Italian completely fluently and has agreed to help out. What a good friend! He was there at the airport in Bologna and together we headed off into the centre of the city. It’s a fabulous place – vibrant and beautiful. In Piazza Maggiore we noticed a large plaque dedicated to the Partisans of the city who were killed during the war. There was no mention of anyone who’d died fighting for the Neo-Fascists.

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