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1908 - 1914: He was born in Fontanelle

Giovannino Guareschi was born on the 1st May 1908 in Fontanelle di Roccabianca, in the province of Parma.

The very day of his birth connects him to the class struggle and the politics, in fact, he was born at home, in the room next to the seat of the Socialist Cooperative.

On the occasion of the workers’ day, a meeting is organized and Giovannino, newborn, is picked up into Giovanni Faraboli’s powerful arms, and proudly shown as the future of the Socialist party, from the kitchen window to all the Reds gathered outside Guareschi’s house with flags in their hands.

Giovanni Faraboli will remain in Guareschi’s memory and will inspire the most red of his characters: Peppone.

The first sun my eyes see is the one of the morning on the 1st May 1908. A political sun. In fact, politics is next to my cot because the 1st of May is the Red day here in the plain, and the Reds gather in the garden below a window of my house, while a thin brick and beam ceiling divides me from the other Reds gathered into the room of the Cooperative.

And, that morning, after the end of the meeting in the garden below my kitchen’s window, I have the first direct contact with politics and the class struggle.

Son of the teacher Lina Maghenzani and of Primo Augusto, shopkeeper selling bicycles, sewing machines and agricultural machinery, Giovannino spends his childhood in Fontanelle, until 1924, when his family moves to Parma.

My childhood in Fontanelle is happy: I wear my hair at the Bebè style and a garment with white collar as all children until 5-6 years.

In the villages it goes in this way: in the morning the mum, after washing her child’s face with fresh water and washing soap, dresses him, gives him a piece of bread and lets him go out. There is no car: streets, squares, embankments, everything belongs to children.

I appear to be a very reserved child, who does not try to show off. But at the age of six someone realizes I exist and it is an unpleasant discovery, because he catches me stealing plums from a tree in his vegetable garden. The good man does not understand that I, being born in a fiery Socialist atmosphere, do not have a clear idea of what the private property is.

The quotations in the Biography pages are taken from the book Chi sogna nuovi gerani? Giovannino Guareschi "Autobiografia", Rizzoli Ed.






Giovannino Guareschi, Fontanelle di Roccabianca, 1911


Giovannino at 6 years, 1914


Scene of the film, where Peppone shows his child at balcony