|Paul & Agostino Spadoni|
|Members of the Fanucci family|
still live next to the bridge.
Agostino is the ultimate example of someone minding his own business but being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Italy had joined World War 2 on the side of Germany in 1940, and from that time on, the Germans gradually took over nearly complete control of Italian law enforcement agencies. German soldiers commandeered the homes and factories of wealthy Italians and demanded that farmers turn over their animals and farm produce to supply the army with food.
While the majority of Italians, Agostino included, simply tried to ignore and avoid the occupying forces, a few cooperated with the Germans to increase their fortunes and chances of survival. Still others joined the Resistenza, which is an umbrella term for those who opposed and fought the occupying Germans and the Italian collaborators. Members of the resistance were known as partigiani, partisans. In Ponte Buggianese, the partisans did what they could to disrupt the army by attacking munitions storehouses and occasionally taking pot shots at soldiers.
This resulted in a type of paranoia among the Germans, who likely feared that every Italian civilian might secretly be a partisan or at least a sympathizer. They reacted to attacks by partisans by rounding up random Italian citizens and executing them in public to install fear and deter further attacks. The philosophy was often espoused that for every German soldier killed, 10 Italian civilians should be sacrificed.
Agostino Spadoni’s death came shortly after four partisans had opened fire on two soldiers who were passing by in a motorcycle and sidecar. The soldiers fled and reported the incident to German headquarters in Ponte Buggianese. German officers ordered what the Italians called a rappresaglia, a reprisal. In this case, the German soldiers did not round up civilians but just went house to house, killing at random and stealing food and wine.
Soldiers entered the home of Marino Quiriconi, 35, and his wife Bruna, arresting Marino, sacking the house and lighting it on fire. Seventy-three-year-old Agostino lived nearby, and hearing the commotion, he went to render aid. He never returned. His wife found him in his field, about 50 meters away, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. About six weeks later, the German soldiers were given permission to clear the way for their retreating soldiers by engaging in a wholesale slaughter known as the Eccidio del Padule di Fucecchio. Some 174 civilians were killed on the day of the massacre. Agostino and others killed in the area during the weeks leading up to the slaughter are sometimes numbered among the victims.
|The Ponte della Guardia, taken from the yard of the former home of Agostino Spadoni.|
I suspected that Agostino Spadoni from the real estate agency might be the grandson of the martyr Agostino, as the ages seem to fit, and it is common in Italy to name a grandchild after the grandfather. I paid a visit to the agency to check on my theory, and Agostino confirmed that he is indeed the grandson. Since my research at the church archives had already placed the elder Agostino in our family tree, all that remained was to add in the data from the 1900s that Agostino provided me.
As is the case with Italo Spadoni, Agostino is not a close relative. He is my 12th cousin once removed. His late father Giovanni would be in my generation. But still we feel a bond, for besides sharing a surname, our ancestors grew up in the same village, and undoubtedly some were acquainted with each other. Agostino the grandson was 5 years old when his nonno was killed, and though we are separated genealogically and geographically, my research and interest in both Italian and family history has drawn us close. I share a portion of his sorrow for the tragic moment of his grandfather’s senseless death.