Alberino Cristofori

We have told (and shared) various stories relating to the tradition of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer, the motorcycles produced, the victories, anecdotes both well documented and lesser known, and we’ve spoken of characters and their life experiences inside and outside the Ducati walls.

But we haven’t had chance to tell you about real-life episodes like the one we are about to share here - the touching story of a man who, with the help of Ducati staff, managed to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Thanks to his descendants, particularly his daughter Caterina Cristofori and granddaughter Giulia Pasetti, we can now tell you this story, as incredible as it is true

"Dear all,

I apologize for taking a little of your time to tell you this story about your company and my grandfather. I am writing to you on behalf 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 he had to move to Venezia Giulia (at the time this was its name) for work, and it was there that he met my grandmother and where my mother Caterina and one of her two brothers were born. Drafted in the Second World War, he was in the anti-aircraft artillery in the Bologna area before being taken prisoner in the Borgo Panigale countryside.

It was 8 September 1943, the day of the armistice, and my grandfather, Alberino Cristofori, a gunner in Borgo Panigale, was already planning his homecoming together with his comrades. On 9 September, German soldiers managed to take them prisoner with the intention of moving them to Germany. They were taken, rounded up, and made to set off. They were meant to leave from Bologna railway station.

My grandfather’s group of gunners were all soldiers over thirty, mature and experienced, while the German soldiers who "accompanied" them were all very young, inexpert, and perhaps even unsure. And so, on the walk to Bologna, many Italian soldiers were literally able to “hide” in the countryside while the others stalled for time, stopping with every excuse even though their journey had only 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).

He and some of the others managed to get away from the German soldiers and, in very daring fashion, even passing inside some houses, they were able to reach the "Factory". Here our soldiers found a proper “recovery” organization assisting Italian soldiers on the run. In a few minutes they were stripped of their uniforms, dressed in Ducati overalls, and positioned in front of machines while an employee prepared identification cards with photos provided by the soldiers themselves, probably detached from their papers.

The German soldiers arrived a few hours later to carry out an inspection, because they suspected that the fugitives were hiding at the Ducati factory. They saw workers at the machines, all with cards bearing a recruitment date of one year prior. Unable to prove that the escaped Italian soldiers were among the workers, they left, and my grandfather and his companions went free.

After being disguised as a Ducati worker, complete with card identifying him as a member of staff, he and the other fugitives who had been helped to hide returned home. So, he only worked at the Factory for one day, but he kept the memory of this adventure with a happy ending alive by sharing it with my mother, who had no tangible proof until last July when she found the card that I attach here.

Having escaped Bologna and dressed as a civilian, my grandfather reached relatives in Ferrara, who hosted him for one night, before he returned to Cernizza Goriziana, where he lived with my grandmother, my mother, and his youngest son. Soon afterwards, the drama of the foibe massacres began and there was another escape, but that is another story. Maybe my mother will tell you about it when we have the chance 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, aware that things have changed at Ducati since then. It is just an Italian story of an Italian brand.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you again for your interest in us.

With warm greetings, Giulia Pasetti and Caterina Cristofori.”

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