Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Like mother, like son...

"Eva, the good sorceress who growns Iris", as Italo Calvino used to call his mother, Eva.

Iris x barabata photo by Kurt Stueber

Eva Mameli, was born in Sassari on 12th February 1886 and her life will not be "ordinary" , she will conquer many places, closed before to women, will engage battles that had never thought before and  by her example, her intelligence and ability will affect the greatest writer of the twentieth century.

Her family is a wealthy family and her parents, a colonel of Carabinieri, Gian Battista and Maddalena Cabuddu, always taught her the virtues of perfection and freedom, as well as their other children, probably for this her brother Efisio established the Sardinian action party, il Partito sardo d'Azione, in 1921.

So Eva, Giuliana Luisa Evelina,attended a public high school, traditionally a  male school and her passion for Science leds her to study Mathematics at the University of Cagliari, where she had moved with her family at the retirement of her father, and where she will graduate in 1905. 
The following year, however, that much beloved father is lacking and Eva and her mom decide to go to Pavia, reaching his older brother Efisio, here she attended the University, where his brother was already a professor, following the course of Natural Sciences by Professor Briosi  and still a student  published her first scientific work, "on the mycological flora of Sardinia. First contribution "which was followed, the next year, by a second contribution, already by the bachelor Eva, who graduated in 1907. 

Giuliana Luigia Evelina Mameli in Calvino
At the same time she agrees to assist prof. Briosi to his Chair of Natural Sciences and also to follow the cryptogamic laboratory of Pavia, but she obtained a Masterly Degree too, and after a period in London, in 1910 finally she gets a teaching degree. Thus began teaching in high schools in 1911 but as she got the job of assistant in Botany, decided to do what she loved most, the Research. In 1915 she even got the Chair of Professorship at the University of Pavia, becoming the first woman ever to turn a course of Botany whose theme will be "The microscopic technique applied to the study of medicinal and industrial plants".

However, the period of the First World War intervenes and Eva provides her person to rescue the wounded soldiers, joining the Red Cross nurses, receiving a silver medal from the Red Cross and a bronze medal from the Ministry of the Defense. After the war, Eva renews her beloved studies and her research in the natural sciences earning the attention and the prize of the Accademia dei Lincei of Rome, in 1919. 
In Pavia Eva was then alone, his brother had been transferred back to Sardinia to another University and in the meantime also Professor Briosi had disappeared, when was achieved, from Cuba in 1920, by an Italian researcher and naturist who wanted to know her: Mario Calvino.
It was undeniable that her fame and her studies were known and appreciated abroad, and so, Calvino, father, in need of an assistant to the agricultural experimental Station in Havana, wanted to know her and  from that meeting was born more of a
professional collaboration. The two, in fact, were married first by proxy and then in Cuba few months later. 

Italo Calvino, the biggest Italian writer of the twentieth century.
From their marriage were born two sons, the eldest born in Havana in 1923, Italo and Floriano, born in San Remo in 1927.

In Cuba the couple founded an agricultural school for the farmers and their families and when they moved to the agricultural station of Chaparra, founded the magazine La Chaparra Agricola.

After a devastating hurricane that ruined the agricultural Station in 1925, Eva and Mario decided to return to Italy, at the birthplace of Mario, San Remo city and open their own laboratory. To this end, they bought Villa Meridina, which had a very large garden suitable for their research.

Eva, however, also chose to refresh teaching and participated, winning, the public contest for the Professorship at the University of Cagliari where she held for two years, from 1926 to 1928, a Professorship making the commute between San Remo and Cagliari, where, in addition at the Chair in Botany she has also directed the botanical garden, bringing it back to its former splendor  after its absolute abandonment during the war, reintroducing rare species of plants and vegetation.
She was the first woman to hold the two prestigious assignments.

However at the birth of her second child, Floriano, Eva decided to settle in San Remo, where she will continue to work assiduously at the Agricultural Station of San Remo participating always in an active way. With her husband will found The Italian Friends of Flower Association and two scientific journals, including The Flower Garden in 1931 where she will sponsored the first initiatives of protectionism of the Nature, especially in favor of birds useful to agriculture.
 She will also collaborate with the Italian Encyclopedia  and with the Italian Encyclopedia of Agriculture, so that at the end of her career she will realized about 200 scientific articles.

During Fascism,  Mrs. and Mr. Calvino, hosted dissidents and hid Jews, while their two sons, reluctant to the Republic of Salo, participated in the Resistenza. 
Although they were caught and arrested never gave up with tortures to extract them information, also they endured, at least, at two mock executions which in turn one of the two had to be a witness and a subject.

When Mario Calvino died in 1951, Eva took his place at the direction of the Station of San Remo, until 1959, when she realized to be already too old to care for a commitment so important and onerous but nevertheless she passed many more years of her life rearranging, editing and archiving the large scientific production which will then be donated by her sons, Italo and Floriano, to the public library of San Remo at her death on 31st March in 1972 at the age of 92 years.


Monday, 10 February 2014

Beatrice Cenci, a witness

Guido Reni, Beatrice Cenci in her prison.

Beatrice Cenci born in Rome, on 6th Febrary 1577. Her life was able to impress generations over the centuries. She was remembered, investigated by the most known writer ever such as Stendhal, Dumas, Shelley.

The noblewoman Beatrice is the symbol of violence,of her father first, of politics later. She is a symbolic figure who tells us a story in papal Rome. Beatrice has become, in spite of herself, the symbol of the violence to which one are trying to subtract and are sentencing instead.

The first family violence victim in recorded history whose redemption was betrayed by personal ambitions assets. 

Beatrice was born in Rome by Francesco Cenci and, after the death of his mother probably due to the new romantic ambitions of his father, Beatrice spends years in a convent with her sister, coming home only in 1592 after the father has remarried  with the widow Lucrezia Petroni, whose daughter, it is said, was killed by Francesco.

The older sister Antonina, probably alarmed and frightened addressed directly to the Pope to find her a husband or let her become a nun, rather not to stay at home.Luckily for her, the Pope married her but the dowry that her father, always in short of money, was forced to pay was exorbitant and even indirectly Beatrice paid the consequences. In fact, to avoid having to pay another dowry, Beatrice,  now fifteen and full of beauty, was locked up, with his stepmother, in the small castle, called La Rocca in Petrella Salto in the then Kingdom of Naples.

In the meanwhile, her father continued to stay in Rome with the older sons, two of whom died in fights while the Count Francesco was accused of sodomy, violence, debts and of the worst atrocities and pressed by creditors.
Of violent and cruel instinct, Count Francesco decidet to escape from the pressing demands of creditors and took refuge in the fortress along with his two sons Giacomo and Bernardo who repeatedly Beatrice had tried to send letters and messages to solicit them to help her but they  never arrived at their destination, rather intercepted by her father were the cause of a violent reaction that was unleashed against Beatrice, who was severely beaten. 

Always lived in a climate of violence and poverty in which his father kept them, now living all toghether, tired and tested about this situation, Beatrice, her brothers Giacomo and Bernardo as well as the stepmother, premeditating the murder of an abusive and usurping father.   

At the third attempt managed to kill the Count Francesco, finally they did and then tried to cover up the patricide as an accident, throwing down his body as if it fell from the Castle. And their plan initially seemed to work. 
The Cenci family returned to Rome free from abuse and violence but there were heavy suspicion and conjecture since the fame that followed the name of the count Francesco.
So two investigations were opened at the end of which the Pope Clement VIII in person wished to get light opening a new inquiry.

Witnesses were heard and , collecting evidence, the family was accused of murder. Under torture all, Beatrice too could not resist the torture of the rope, and even the household involved, confessed the plot: Beatrice and her stepmother were then sentenced to death for beheading and her older brother Giacomo for quartering. 
Only Bernardo, the youngest, was saved by the Pope himself  who however did not granted any other member of the family and not just for love of justice.

After the death of the conspirators the inheritance of the Cenci was requisitioned by the papacy that sold it subsequently at a price significantly lower than the estimate of its value and was purchased right from the Pope's nephew Gian Francesco Aldobrandini. In part, however, the assets and property were then claimed and recovered by the sole survivor of the conspiracy, Bernardo.

Beatrice waited for death locked in the prison of Corte Savella, which no longer exists, however, this is reminded by a commemorative plaque in Via Monserrato, in the Center of Rome.

Achille Leonardi, Beatrice Cenci in her prison.

Artemisia Gentileschi, "Judith slaying Holofernes", 1620.
Beatrice was finally executed on the morning of September 11th, in 1599 in front of Castel Sant'Angelo, where  were recorded deaths due to the crushing, and where in the crowd massed there were also Caravaggio and Gentileschi with his little daughter Artemisia , who, it is said , for her painting "Judith Slaying Olofene" drew from her own memories of this gruesome and violent day that saw a young girl losing her life only because wanted to be free after having long been the victim of beatings, sexual harassment by her own family and a more subtle politics and interest violence, but equally ruthless, that took her life in an infamous and definitive way.

However Romans, after her death, gave her a floral tribute: the remains of Beatrice lying in the altar of San Pietro in Montorio, at Gianicolo, was covered with white rose petals and her head was buried leaning on a silver tray.
Only during the Italian Risorgimento her grave was desecrated by French soldiers who carried off the skull, which is still missing.
The new grave of Beatrice was rebuilt in a corner of the Church without written or headers, as required by the custom for those condemned to death yes, but also to give her, finally the proper rest and peace, after so much suffering.

Even today, every September 11th, the heir of the family: Prince Cenci Bolognetti  want a memorial Worship to be celebrated at Via del Corso in the Church of Jesus and Mary. 

And even today Beatrice still remains a testimony of that kind of family violence that doesn't annihilate but cries out for revenge, unfair and unjustifiable, yes but that testifies  a subjugated status of women by a patriarchal social attribute which does not allow any replay. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Italian Women to polls

Decreto Legislativo luogotenenziale 2 febbraio 1945, n. 23
Estensione alle donne del diritto di voto
Umberto di Savoia, Principe di Piemonte Luogotenente Generale del Regno

In virtù dell'autorità a Noi delegata;
Visto il decreto legislativo Luogotenenziale 28 settembre 1944, n. 247, relativo alla compilazione delle liste elettorali;
Visto il decreto-legge Luogotenenziale 23 giugno 1914, n. 151;
Vista la deliberazione del Consiglio dei Ministri;
Sulla proposta del Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri, Primo Ministro Segretario di Stato e Ministro per l'interno, di concerto con il Ministro per la grazia e giustizia;
Abbiamo sanzionato e promulgato quanto segue:

Art. 1

Il diritto di voto è esteso alle donne che si trovino nelle condizioni previste dagli articoli 1 e 2 del testo unico della legge elettorale politica, approvato con Regio Decreto 2 settembre 1919 n. 1495.


E' ordinata la compilazione delle liste elettorali femminili in tutti i Comuni.
Per la compilazione di tali liste, che saranno tenute distinte da quelle maschili, si applicano le disposizioni del decreto legislativo Luogotenenziale 28 settembre 1944 n. 247, e le relative norme di attuazione approvate con decreto del Ministro per l'interno in data 24 ottobre 1944.

Art. 3

Oltre quanto stabilito dall'art.2 del decreto del Ministro per l'interno in data 24 ottobre 1944, non possono essere iscritte nelle liste elettorali le donne indicate nell'art. 354 del Regolamento per l'esecuzione del testo unico delle leggi di pubblica sicurezza, approvato con R. decreto 6 maggio 1940 n. 635.


Il presente decreto entra in vigore il giorno successivo a quello della sua pubblicazione nella Gazzetta Ufficiale del Regno.
Ordiniamo, a chiunque spetti, di osservare il presente decreto e di farlo osservare come legge dello Stato.

Addì, 1° febbraio 1945

Italian woman at polls for the first time in history, in 1946.

Today was the day when the Italian women, for the first time, seen recognized their right to vote at the political election. We were in 1945 and they were called to the election only one year later but it finally ended a long path.

It all begins in the nineteenth century when a group of sporadic but strong and combative women, including, perhaps, the most famous Anna Maria Mozzoni, tried to bring attention on the political issue of the Italian women, who were neo pseudo citizens, with the support of a few political figures as Mazzini, at least in the ideal, but especially thanks to Salvatore Morelli, the first parliamentary who for the first time has submited to the Italian Parliament, of the newly formed Italian nation, in 1867 a law for women's political vote, however without being able to obtain results. But just as other laws in favor of  the vote for women by Salvatore Morelli and by other parliamentaries such as Mr Lanza in 1871, Mr Nicotera in 1876-77 and again by Mr Depretis in 1882 didn't obtain results.

Even Anna Maria Mozzoni tried to revive the political discussion addressing directly to Parliament with a petition in 1877 that actually had the merit of opening a serious parliamentary debate, but in the fact, once again, did not bring the hoped reform, desired, sought even after other petitions and conferences over the years that Mozzoni organized to reclaim political rights for women.

In 1879 she founded a league to promote political vote for women.

However Italian women, at the begining were more intrested in social arguments such as education, in spite of this first approach, for the revange of political rights of women few associations were born: the "Associazione nazionale per la donna" (the National Association for women) in 1897, the "Unione femminile nazionale" (the National Women's Union) in 1899 and the “Consiglio nazionale delle donne italiane CNDI” (the National Council of Italian Women) in 1903 as the "Comitato Nazionale pro-suffraggio" (the Italian National pro- Women's Suffrage Committee).

Anna Fraentzel Celli, Ersilia Bronzini Majno, Elisa Boschetti e Pellegrina Pirani
at the "National Women's Union" in 1899, in Milan.

The early years of the twentieth century, however, brought the first fruits, even if sour and bitter.

It had to record the failure, once again, of a new bill in favor of universal suffrage, proposed by Congressman Mirabelli, and, over the years, by Turati, by Treves and by Sonnino, as well as new instances from Mozzoni and in general by the committees created to complain about political rights for women's vote. The Italian National pro-Women's Suffrage Committee, e.g., worked to foster a healthy debate in a country that seemed more open to the possibility of taking into account the possibility that women were a political entity, so in its Congress her president, Giacinta Martini Marescotti, brought to the attention of the public and the Italian politicians,  that other countries have had important advantages since they had recognized this right to women.

However, no efforts led to a result until after the first major conflict, in fact, after the first world war, many political factions rallied and declared themselves in favor of the female vote, including the Partito Popolare of Don Luigi Sturzo, that even proved to be contrary to the position of the then Pope Pius X clearly unfavorable to the female vote ("God preserve us from political feminism")[1] but this position adhered also to the neo Fascist Party, favorable to women’s vote too.

Moreover, thanks mainly to the fact that during the war women had been the real strength of the country and replacing men at work who were employed at the front, they had, according to the visions of men of that time, a credit from their country because they have proven to be and worked as men, so this led to the Law of September 1919 which finally approved the right to vote in local and political elections to women, but if this law passed in a very short time at the chamber of Deputies, it never found the way to get to the other House of Parliament, which had previously been dissolved, and declined as other laws pending approval.

In the meanwhile Fascism took place, and even if in its early days it had touted the granting of political rights to women, now instead revised and simplified the promise promulgating and ensuring only administrative vote with constraints and contingencies, but we know that in a short time it will revoke political rights away also to all those who enjoyed them.

The second post-war once again sees women fight, during the war in the Resistenza for the freedom of their country, and after, for their rights thanks to the emergence of Groups for the Defense of Women (Gruppi di Difesa della Donna), created by the Communist Party, which were recognized by the Government of National Liberation, CLN and subsequently reorganized in UDI, Union of Italian Women with the aim of representing and advancing, in a unified way, claim policy in favor of women. However, the Italian Women Centre (Centro Italiano Femminile CIF ), also born from Catholic women who did not identify themselves in UDI.

Both organizations, however, cooperated together to resolve the political issue of Italian Women and from their collaboration and tenacity, born the document "Italian women have the right to vote" (“Le donne italiane hanno diritto al voto”) presented to the Government of National Liberation, CNL.

The urgent care that women were able to maintain high and active finally led to the law of February 1st, in 1945, which recognized, to Italian Women the right to vote for the first time.

However, this Law excluded some women as those who were "abusive" harlots and in any case did not recognize women to be elected, so Italian women return to protest once again; UDI reacts formally and a year later, in 1946, finally come the decree n. 74  which provides that:

Art. 1
L’Assemblea costituente è eletta a suffragio universale e con voto diretto, libero e segreto attribuito a liste di candidati concorrenti. [...]

Art. 7
Sono eleggibili all'Assemblea Costituente i cittadini e cittadine italiani che, al giorno delle elezioni, abbiano compiuto il 25° anno di età, eccettuati i casi previsti dagli articoli 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 del presente decreto.

A newspaper suggesting women not to wear lipstick in the election days

Finally Italian Women conquered the full enjoyment of their rights: administrative, active and passive political vote ... even if they haven't yet the freedom of wear lipstick on election time, as it was suggested to them by newspapers at the moment of election for not to stain voting papers. And if today we couldn't be worried any more about wear the gloss during the election time, it opens a very different account, a current and contemporary reflection on effective political representation of women which is far from closing and which leads today to a whole other story whose protagonists are just us.

[1] SALVINI ELISABETTA, “Ada e le altre. Donne cattoliche tra fascismo e democrazia”, Ed. Franco Angeli, 2013, pag. 16.