Dear Ducati friends,
We have told (and shared) different stories related to the tradition of Borgo Panigale’s company, to the motorcycles manufactured, to the victories, the anecdotes being more and less known, and we have often talked about characters who have linked their life experiences occurred inside and outside Ducati's walls.
But I have not had the chance to tell you about true life moments like the one we are about to tell you: the exciting story of a man who, thanks to the solidarity of Ducati's staff, managed to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Thanks to his descendants, and in particular his daughter Caterina Cristofori and his niece Giulia Pasetti, we can tell you this story, as incredible as it is true.
Livio Lodi, Curator of Ducati Museum
Sorry to take some of your time to tell you this story about your company and my grandfather. I am writing to you in the name of my mother, who is now eighty years old and has found the card herein attached.
We are from the province of Ferrara. My grandfather was originally from this area where we still live, but for work he had to move to Venezia Giulia (at the time this was its name) where he met my grandmother and where my mother Caterina and one of his two brothers were born. He was called-up for the Second World War. At the time of this event he belonged to the anti-aircraft in the area of Bologna, in fact, as I wrote, he was taken prisoner in the countryside of Borgo Panigale.
It was the 8th of September 1943, the day of the armistice and my grandfather, Alberino Cristofori was gunner in Borgo Panigale, while with his comrades he was already planning his homecoming. On the 9th of September, German soldiers managed to take them prisoners with the intention of moving them to Germany. They took them, gathered them and set-off. They should have left from Bologna's railway station.
The group of gunners my grandfather belonged to was formed by soldiers being already over thirty, adults and experts, while the German soldiers who "accompanied" them were all very young, inexperienced and perhaps even unconvinced. Therefore, on the way to Bologna many Italian soldiers literally managed to "ambush" in the countryside and the others were stalling stopping with every excuse even if their journey had just begun. During one of these stops an elderly passer-by, who had understood the situation, said to my grandfather: "andè ala Ducati!” (Go to Ducati).
So he and some others managed to get away from the German soldiers and in a daring way, even passing inside some houses, reached the "Factory". Here our soldiers found a real organisation to "recycle" Italian soldiers on the run. In a few minutes they were stripped of their uniforms and dressed in Ducati suits, placed in front of machines while an employee was preparing identification cards with photos provided by the soldiers themselves, probably by detaching them from their papers.
The German soldiers arrived a few hours later to make an inspection, because they suspected that the fugitives were hiding at Ducati’s factory. They saw workers at the machines, all equipped with cards whose date of recruitment dated back to a year earlier and, not being able to prove that among those workers there were the Italian soldiers who escaped them, they left and my grandfather and his companions were free.
After being disguised as a Ducati worker, with a card that was valid for identification as part of the workers' staff, he and the other fugitives who had been helped to hide, then returned to their homes. Therefore, his employment at the Factory was one day only, but he has always kept alive the memory of this adventure with a happy ending by transmitting it to my mother, who had no tangible evidence, until last July when she found the card I attached herein.
Therefore, my grandfather, who had escaped from Bologna, reached his relatives in Ferrara, who hosted him for one night, dressed as a civilian, and then returned to Cernizza Goriziana, where he lived with my grandmother, my mother and his youngest son. Shortly after the drama of the foibe began and there was another escape, but this is another story. Maybe my mother will tell you about it when we have the opportunity to meet you.
This is the story my mother wanted me to tell you to show her gratitude to the then Plant Manager and to the staff who helped my grandfather and his comrades, still knowing that things have changed at Ducati since then. It is just an Italian story of an Italian brand.
Thank you for your reading time, and thank you so much once again for your interest in us.
Warm greetings, Giulia Pasetti and Caterina Cristofori.”