The poignant story of Beppe Porcheddu, the father-in-law of Major Michael Ross, has now been told in an Italian television documentary.
Supporters will recall that Michael, a Trust stalwart who died in 2012, was given refuge in Liguria by the Porcheddu family, at enormous risk to them, after escaping from Fontanellato. As he later told in his book, From Liguria with Love, he fell in love with one of the twin daughters, Giovanna, and returned after the war to marry her.
Beppe himself was a well known artist who was disabled by wounds received in the first world war. As Giovanna explains in the documentary, he was strongly anti-Fascist because, as an artist, he valued freedom of expression and refused to be corralled into Fascist painting. He had his passport taken away in 1935 and, while Michael was hiding at the family’s villa near Bordighera, he was investigated by the authorities. But, greatly to the relief of his guests, no action was taken against him and all the family survived the war.
Then, in 1947, Beppe suddenly disappeared, never to be seen again by his family. He said that he was leaving to organise an exhibition and told his wife not to search for him. Giovanna’s mother concluded that Beppe, a religious man who sometimes suffered bouts of depression, might have gone to live in a monastery. The family accepted his decision.
Italian speakers can see the documentary, which was researched by journalist Michela Bellenzier and broadcast on 25th February, by clicking on www.tgr.rai.it and following these links: regioni/Liguria/Il Settimanale/Archivio.