Sassomolare e paesi montanari limitrofi - Appennino Tosco Emiliano

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Quel braccialetto... testimone di un passato bellicoso

Racconta Giovanni...
"Tra le cose che mamma ELISA RICCI in BERNARDI mi ha lasciato, c'era un grazioso braccialetto in argento che da sempre sapevo avesse ricevuto da un giovane soldato americano prima di partire per una azione sulla linea del fronte per lo sfondamento della linea gotica".

Sul braccialetto si legge: R. Villegas e 39584922

"Preso dalla curiosità e grazie ad internet, dopo numerose ricerche sono riuscito a collegare il nome, numero matricola con un possibile indirizzo Californiano.
Dopo vari tentativi falliti via mail ho deciso di tentare con la più tradizionale posta e nel dicembre 2007 ho inviato una cartolina natalizia:

Hello my name is Bernardi G.
I live in Bologna in the North of Italy.
I Find
Mr.VILLEGAS ELISEO R. (born in 1922).
He was in Italy during
Word War II in 1944-1945 in the 87Th Inf.
He fought
on Gothic Line near Bologna in the Mountins' town : Montese - Castel d'Aiano - Sassomolare - Torraccia ...
I would like to write with him or someone of is relatives, because i have a personal object with an ARMY SERIAL NUMBER and a Name Mr. Villegas.
My personal email is ……………….
I hope to recive any news (positive or negative) or email relatives Villegas Eliseo R
Thank you very much for your attention and excuse me for my school english!
Bye Bye Bernardi

Nonostante la mia perplessità la cartolina è arrivata a destinazione … e a metà Gennaio 2008 è arrivata questa mail:

"Salutations Mr. Bernardi Giovanni
My name is Ashley. I am the daughter of Daniel Raul Villegas who is the son of Eliseo Raul Villegas.
We are all very interested and excited to know your relationship to my grandfather Eliseo Raul Villegas. (He was more commonly referred to as Raul).
It is in my greatest regrets to inform you that Raul passed away in August 2003. He suffered from Elzheimer's and Parkinsons disease. He fell asleep and didn't wake up. We do have some photos and will gladly forward those to you, if you are interested. Please do not hesitate to ask for any information, as we are all very happy to help you with anything you are in need of.
In turn, we are are all very interested to find out information about you. We do have some ideas, but nothing confirmed. My grandmother, Emma Villegas, ……………………………………………………….. That would be wonderful! Oh, and do not apologize about your english. It was understood very well.
I am hoping this letter finds you in great health and great spirit. Wishing you a most prosperous new year and we hope your christmas was wonderful as well.

The Villegas"

"E' così iniziata una fitta corrispondenza con scambio di informazioni, foto e notizie:

Cara Ashley,
I'm really happy i got your e-mail, for so long I've been trying to find some addresses or mails with internet and in many other ways but at last I thought that in this modern time "the old Postman" could be the answer for my problems ...and so it was, even if he didn't know the exactly, thanks also to that unknown worker!!
All began several years ago, when my mother, Elisa Ricci , died, and I've found in her stuff some objects that reminds me her stories about the II World War.
In that years she lived in Sassomolare (between Bologna and Modena, Central-Northern Italy) where she stayed for all the period of the war: the famous Gothic Line (the line that separated Allies and Germans) was fixed for many months in Sassomolare and its environment.
In that terrible time my mother and her sister lived in the house's cellar as a refuge.
As the Americans - and especially
the 10TH Mountain Division - advanced in contrast to Germany Army, our home became a crossing place for the soldiers who were destinated to fight against the Germany's first fire lines and also for the other ones who fortunately came back safe after these actions.
My mother always told me their stories with kindness and gratefulness, because these young soldiers left smiles and foods to all the local population and also to her and actually helped them to get rid of an horrible dictatorship.
On their faces my mother could read the death's fear, but also their courage and determination coming from the counsciousness to persevering freedom and peace.
Some of these young men leaved her some of their personal objects (like letters, photos, ..) with the hope to came and take them back after the actions.. Unfortunately many of them did not come back...
Maybe it was in this way that she had this little bracelet that I have now with me and that i think belongs to your .
Unfortunately, in the sixties a terrible fire has destroyed part of the house and among other things, many of those memories.
I'm Giovanni and I was born in 1948, I'm married and I have a daughter, her name is Elena.
I have brother and his name is Lino. Now I live in Bologna but my father, who is 88 years old, lives in Sassomolare in the same house I told you about. He is disabled and his health isn't good. He is the oldest of the town.
During my researches about the bracelet I found the Villegas's army serial number and 87th Inf.
I think that this bracelet is not a military platelet of US Army but maybe a memory that his family gave him when he departed for war..
If you like i can send you this object .
Happy to receive your a-mail again
Renata, Elena and Giovanni Bernardi

Raul Villegas soldato

Foto di famiglia Villegas
Da sinistra : la nostra corrispondente Ashley, al centro la nonna EMMA moglie di Villegas Raul, a destra la sorella di Ashley

"Ecco alcune delle Mail con i Villegas":

"Dear Family Giovanni,
This story is beautiful. So perfectly beautiful. I can not begin to tell you how many times I have told different people about the situation and still find myself smiling with happiness and excitment.
Is the town still very isolated? Are there lots of buildings around now? Have you contacted other people as well in regards to personal belongings?
Do you have more photos? The ones that you have attached are breathtaking.
I will attach a couple of photos of my grandfather. He was a great man.
How old is your daughter? I believe that by the end of this year my family and I would really like to go see this town. We have all wanted to take a trip to Italy. I think this is the perfect reason to go. To see the town that my grandfather once walked through...


My family, well, most of us, live in Pico Rivera. This City is located 10 miles south of Los Angeles, California.
My mother and father are Debbie and Danny. I have an older sister, Natalie (26 years old) who lives in Texas. Her husband is in the Army and just returned home safely from a 1 year tour in Iraq. They have 2 children, Ava (female) and Amon (male). They will be coming to visit us next week. Then there is me (Ashley). I am 25 years old. My brother (Josh, 23 years old) has two daughters, Hailey and Leila. And the youngest girl, Sierra. She is 19 years old. She has a daughter. Her name is CharlotteRose. And the baby. His name is Justin. He is 8 years old.
I have attached our family Christmas photo. As you can see, we love to have a good time and laugh. We are very close and do spend a lot of time together. We really don't have many other photos of military significance to show to you, so I will just attach different family photos. We do have a good time.
So, as you read above, I am the only one who does not have any children. This means I am just about the only one who can go on a vacation without worry! I will definately be planning my trip to Italy. Hopefully by the year's end. My father will probably accompany me, but this is something that I would most definately love to do. And if you really do offer to show us around, that would be marvelously appreciated.
And please, our house is your house. If ever you, or your family, would care to come visit Los Angeles, our door is open.
The Villegas"

"Dietro desiderio dei parenti di Villegas ho provveduto ad inviare il braccialetto …. Mi hanno inviato le foto del coltello militare che il nonno Raul aveva riportato a casa dopo la guerra con la medesima scritta e numero di matricola e ….

...un grazioso invito alle nozze di Ashley Villegas con Charles Reeves III ….. per il sabato 16 ottobre 2010 ….. in California …

I Futuri sposi

"NON potendo andare personalmente al matrimonio ho pensato di fare cosa simpatica facendo conoscere questa storia agli abitanti di Sassomolare, invitandoli a scrivere un pensiero di augurio che ho provveduto ad inviare ai novelli sposi insieme ad un regalo di nozze ….

Tramite il sito internet di Sassomolare, Facebook e Google Earth, conoscono il paese e la sua tradizionale festa ("Un volo nel passato"), vedono le foto pubblicate, apprezzando così questo gioioso contesto tipicamente Italiano …. che non vedono l'ora di visitare!!"

La storia...tra le righe

Il 3 Marzo 2011 la storia del ritrovamento del braccialetto viene pubblicata tra le pagine del famoso quotidiano nazionale bolognese "Il Resto del Carlino".
Di seguito è riportato l'articolo:

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