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
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",
Giovannino Guareschi, Fontanelle di Roccabianca, 1911
Giovannino at 6 years, 1914
Scene of the film, where Peppone shows his child at balcony