A short text with stories, history, news and sarcasm born from some night chatting about disasters and World War Two
My homeland Modena must miss me. Since I moved to Salzburg things started to go pretty bad over there.
We all have to admit that scoring an earthquake (May 2012), two tornadoes (May 2013) and a massive flood (January 2014) in a row really is a huge achievement. (On this blog you can check where the several epicentres of the earthquake were, terremoto, where the tornadoes stroke, tromba d’aria; the flooded area in blue)
There could be many different thoughts I could share on my blog talking of this last disaster. But pouring out my wrath about politicians and administrations would mean simply picturing them in a bad bad bad light, and this is entirely too easy! I have standards too, I cannot lower them further than they are right now. Even though, in that case I would have to start digging, and digging canals and navigations could be useful in this time of flooding. But I am not an engineer, and besides I have a painful spinal disc herniation, so I’d better leave digging for another time.
Therefore, let us focus on another thing: Italian media are ignoring the tragedy .
Many friends of mine on Facebook started sharing a photo published by a NYT blog, called Lens. Comments pointed to the fact that Italian journalism ignored us, while the American press instead apparently took our situation more seriously. Actually, that was not a news but a blog dedicated to photography, therefore the
enthusiasm should be kept in perspective. Nevertheless one must admit that, although we did not impress the Italian press – outside Modena, of course -, this NYT blog did list “us” among the pictures of the day, as the no. 5 of the 20th January more precisely, among other pretty bad situations all around the world (clashes, bombings, other massive floods).
After sharing this myself, the friend and journalist Gabriele Testi “liked and shared” the “Facebook way” as well, and took the opportunity to check when had been the last time the NYT wrote about the “Secchia river”. It was 1945, and the Allied Armed Forces were marching along the Secchia in order to reach the Po river. Our Modenese sources and memories (including my parents’ ones) about the end of World War Two all mention the marching troops on the Canaletto, a road following for most of its course the river Secchia and leading to the Brenner. Gabriele’s discovery lead us to some night chatting: I was waiting for the pain meds to kick in and could not sleep, he is a journalist and is probably used to covering news and researching facts at night…
(little remark: Gabriele is a male name in Italian!)
The flooded territories are located between two rivers, the Secchia (the one that literally poured out when the levee in one of the north suburbs of Modena broke, and the Panaro. Their courses come closer shortly after the city of Modena, in its immediate northern outskirts (suburbs of San Matteo, Albareto and Navicello), and they flow this close until after Sorbara/San Prospero and Bomporto. The Secchia has flooded all the territories to the river Panaro, thus resulting in a terrible flood also in the before-mentioned town of Bomporto (where, by the way, I used to live prior to my migration to Salzburg). Bomporto is located on the river Panaro and has an old bridge crossing the Panaro itself, connecting Bomporto to Casoni di Ravarino. While chatting with Gabriele on my Facebook account about US troops and Modenese rivers I recalled my researches for the Historical Dictionary of Modenese Antifascism, which included consulting a huge amount of orders of battle to understand more of some local biographies (partisans fighting here and there, old books reporting things I found a little suspicious or unlikely). Due to my focus, I only went to Berlin and Freiburg to research directly in the archives for German diaries. Nevertheless, I looked up a few second-hand things about the Allied troops as well. So, I stumbled upon the march of the 10th Mountain Division, marching on Bomporto, or better, occupying its bridge, which was considered strategic. These facts are stated, for instance, on this site and even on my not so beloved Wikipedia, where a footnote about the occupation of the Bomporto bridge on the river Panaro leads to “Young, Gordon Russell (1959), Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office”.
The real-life Trapp family, the one you probably know from The Sound of Music, escaped to the USA (not to Switzerland), had Italian citizenship and had two boys who were sent to serve in the 10th Mountain Division, Rupert and Werner. According to Maria’s and Agathe’s memories, they were indeed fighting in our territories: Agathe mentions Mount Belvedere, which is between Lizzano in Belvedere and Montese. Montese hosted a well-known battle, where the Brazilian Army fought bravely. Moreover, Montese lies in the upper part of the Panaro valley and drainage basin. I have absolutely no evidence that the two Trapp boys entered Bomporto on that April day in 1945 but somehow I can picture them descending with their division the paths leading through Marano, Vignola, Castelfranco, Nonantola to Bomporto. Who knows if they did? Well, I would know how to find out this, but unfortunately I have other projects scheduled as soon as my herniation gets better, so this particular inquiry will have to wait. (About the Trapp family, Maria A. Trapp, The story of the Trapp Family Singers, and Agathe von Trapp, Memories before and After The Sound of Music, as well as their official website).
What is the moral of this story?
Mr Sheffield: And the moral of the story is?
Fran: Everything has to have a moral? What am I, Mother Goose?
(Yet another quote from “The Nanny” on this blog, episode 2.17 “The Will”)
Well, my herniation tells me I am starting to morph into Mother Goose, so here are a few reasons I wrote this story:
– This is an interesting story following a sort of a stream of consciousness with punctuation, a flood of memories brought to us by three things: a flood, my unpaid occupation as an historian and some strong pain meds. No science, just some storytelling here for entertainment purposes, which is something many blogs do, and you will agree with me that this is quite pleasant, especially for curious people like me. I also know that tags such WWII, Bob Dylan, Trapp, Sound of Music, The Nanny will attract people! And this leads to the other reason:
– I would hope to draw some attention on this troubled land and raise some awareness about the situation: yes, it is my personal affection and concern since I was born and raised there, my family and friends are still there. But it is also a land which used to contribute alone to the 1% of the Italian GDP before the earthquake and which is slowly dying due to the stubbornness of the government and of the local administrations, neither granting any tax free time range nor investing in the local reconstruction. Instead, they focus on other “investments” I would not be proud of. But this is an issue I would not like to address. This land produces a lot of fine eno-gastronomic specialities, excellent biomedical technologies, beautiful cars, and moreover hosts exquisite architectural and artistic treasures. I assure that a visit to our Province would not disappoint you if things were a little more…normal, you know?
If it keep on rainin’ the levee gonna break
If it keep on rainin’ the levee gonna break
Everybody saying this is a day only the Lord could make