1913 – 2011
Rocca Ripesena gets its name from a small mesa located a few kilometers west of the city of Orvieto – a much larger mesa with steep cliffs surrounding it. Thus, it is a perfect natural fortress. It was here, in the Rocca, that Attilio Cerchecci spent his entire life. And it was here that he witnessed the war as it raged and ravaged all around him and his village.
Much of his time was spent tending to and trying to safeguard the farm animals that were entrusted to his care by his family and neighbors after they had fled to the nearby caves during the bombings and later invasion. The young, curious Cerchecci stayed at the farm to observe, from a highly unique vantage point, the culmination of his world at war.
From his own small house and the surrounding woods and fields, he was outraged by and documented the merciless killings of neighbors and nearby villagers. He witnessed and mourned the senseless devastation of the land, crops, homes and animals on the small farms.
Cerchecci also provides witness for the brutality shown by both sides of the war – the Nazis, and to a lesser extent, the Allies – with first-hand observations of the murderous Fascist militia out of Orvieto, the feared Mussolini “M Battalion.”
Following the war, Cerchecci continued his heritage as a farmer, married and had a family. A soft-spoken, charming man, he “told little stories” of the war – but only after being asked. He felt it was important to help the next generation remember their past in order to create their future.
Attilio Cerchecci lived a long and gentle life – spent entirely in the village of his birth. By coincidence or unexplained design, George Custodi, translator of this book, met Cerchecci in person on the street in front of his home in Rocca Ripesena just a few years before his death.