anarchists we love: 1. Emma and Nello

Nello Garavini belonged to a family of well-known anarchists in the small town of Castel Bolognese . His father Pietro (1869-1933), in addition to being a militant with a certain influence in the local area, ran a tavern for many yearsUntitled

Nello joined the anarchist movement when very young, attending numerous  libertarians conferences including those of Errico Malatesta, who influenced him decisively. An avid reader of different social and political texts, he got a good self-education. He also met the anarchist anti militarist Augusto Mazetti, when he was held in the asylum in nearby Imola, and became one of his greatest friends.

June 1914 witnessed the “Red Week”, during which crowds in protest assaulted and destroyed the railway station of Castel Bolognese. When the Great War broke out he joined the anti-intervencionist group and became a remained a radical anti-militarist, even when Italy entered the conflict, which was very risky. 

In 1916, together with a group of young anarchists he founded the “Gruppo Anarchica Giovanile “(GAG  Anarchist Youth) and the Libertarian Library . Among the supporters of the group was his brother Simone (Cino) who was arresteds and jailed for a year. Nello organized protests against interventionism and patriotic demonstrations and secretly spread a subversive manifesto urging desertion among the soldiers. Nello was specially active in the deserters movement which swept through Emilia-Romagne.

During the war, he actively participated in the “Red Biennium” riots and promoted the trend of organizing the anarchist movement on Malatesta’s principles). He actively participated in the uprising against the ‘scarcity of life’  that took place between 2 and 3 July 1919 in Castel Bolognese, as well as other Italian townss.

Nello Garavini set up the Union of Castel Bolognese, which joined the Italian Anarchist Trade Union (USI) and acted as a branch of the headquarters of Imola. At this time Nello also secretly took charge of “material preparation” for the revolution, procuring weapons for his comrades (Brescia, Valdarno, etc.).

GAG was represented at numerous meetings.. Cesena (7 September 1919), Bologna (14 September 1919), etc. the National Congress of the Italian Anarchist Union (IAU), and  the Second National Congress of the IAU held in Ancona.emma garaavini

In 1921 Nello met Emma Neri, a young schoolteacher born into a socialist family, and she soon became his companion.

Emma Neri was born on September 5, 1897 in Cesena (Emilia-Romagna, Italy) teacher anarchist Emma Neri. Her parents were socialists andher  family situation allowed her to study teaching and become a teacher of elementary education.

Then she took a course at the University of Bologna and qualified in school management but preferred to be a teacher in contact with students. Even as a youngster she joined the ideals of revolutionary socialists and  in 1921 she got a position teaching at the elementary school in Castel Bolognese, joining the  important anarchist movement in Emilia-Romagna and becoming the lifelong companion of Nello Garavini .

Due to his opposition to the growth of fascism Nello was twice attacked by armed fascist squads from Bolognese Castle and Imola, and severely wounded. Then in January 1922 he was forced to do his military service in the 18th Artillery Regiment in L’Aquila (Abruzzo, Italy), which took up about a year. Shortly after graduating, 4 June 1923 he civilly married Emma Neri.

In 1924, after the murder of Socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti at the hands of a fascist squad Emma and Nello left Castel, fleeing police surveillance and repression, and settled in Milan (Lombardy, Italy), where they set up a wine company and on 19th October 1924, Giordana, their only daughter was born For two years they lived in Milan, frequenting libertarian circles and became  close friends with Carlo Maria Rossi Molaschi and his companion. …

On 19 October 1924 Giordana was born, the only daughter of the couple, who also opted for the libertarian movement. During the two years we lived in Milan and military relations with the libertarian circles of the city (Damonti Angelo, Mario Mantovani, Fioravante Meniconi, Leda Rafanelli, Ettore Molinari, Nella Giacomelli, Monanni Carlo, Umberto Mincigrucci, etc.) and made Molaschi special friendship with Carlo Maria Rossi and his companion.
love letters

In 1926, just before the entry into force of the new law restricting outputs fascist country and allowed opponents to send confinement, Nello and Emma emigrated to Brazil with their daughter, settling in Rio de Janeiro with the support of his uncle anarchist Ansen.

At first they were totally Emma taught for some years at the Italian School of the “Dante Alighieri Society”, but lost her job because of pressure from the Italian embassy, due to her anti-fascism.

Nello worked as a waiter at the Hotel Gloria . In 1928 and 1929, Nello frequented the Centro Cosmopolita, where the frictions between anarchists and bolsheviks were intense. Through the Anti-Clerical League, they got to know its founder, José Oiticica, and they kept in touch with local anarchists and antifascists, many of whom were Italian exiles. In the latter half of 1932, the League paid a moving tribute to Errico Malatesta who died on 22 July that year; Nello had known him and regarded him as a major political reference point.

Despite the dangers of Brazilian politics, governed during these years almost always by military dictatorships,  they continued, with precautions, their anarchist activity, focusing mainly on the struggle against Italian fascism, and establishing contacts with other Italian exiles around the world. .

In 1933, the Garavinis opened rooms on Tiradentes Square, just beside the entrance to the Carlos Gomes Theatre (at No 2 Dom Pedro I Street), the “Minha Livraria” (My Bookshop), a rendezvous point and debating chamber for anarchists and antifascists up until 1942. They administered the shop with the support of Nello’s uncle Antonio “A. It was in central Rio de Janeiro and became a meeting place for informal gatherings of the left and immigrants to Brazil. In 1935, in the crackdown following the “attempted communist coup”, the Anti-Clerical League was banned and the bookshop placed under constant surveillance by the Rio police.

With the outbreak of the civil war in Spain in 1936, and despite the increase in repression, the habitués of “My Bookshop” sought to recruit volunteers to fight in the war. Libero Battistelli, a lawyer and  republican member of “Giustizia e Libertà” and his companion Enrichetta, were both exiled in Brazil, they were great antifascists and the best of friends with the Garavinis, Libero set off for Spain and met his death there the following year, fighting on the Huesca front. Even during the bleakest years of Getúlio Vargas’s Estado Novo, the bookshop held out bravely against police raids and provocation by the local fascists.

 Libero Battistelli died on 22 June 1937 from injuries in a battle with Franco's fascists. Among his books, in Italian are:  I fuori-classe (1931), Inconvenienti di segnare il passo (1932), Appunti sui problemi dell'azione (1933) i La reazione in marcia (1934), and he left 3 unpublished, L'attentato Zamboni (2000), Un operaio qualunque..
Libero Battistelli who died on 22 June 1937 from injuries in a battle with Franco’s fascists. Among his books, in Italian are:  I fuori-classe (1931), Inconvenienti di segnare il passo (1932), Appunti sui problemi dell’azione (1933) i La reazione in marcia (1934), and he left 3 unpublished, L’attentato Zamboni (2000), Un operaio qualunque..

 Emma and Nello gradually achieved some economic stability. The library also developed a small publishing activity with the publication of books of political culture, social and literary classics with (Errico Malatesta, Maxim Gorky, Oscar Wilde, Ernst Haeckel, Upton Sinclair, Friedrich Nietzsche, Romain Rolland, etc. ). In early 1946 in Rio de Janeiro they were invited by Luce Fabbri to visit a small farm he owned in the jungle when both fell severely ill from malaria.

Emma and Nello in exile in Rio, 1940
Emma and Nello in exile in Rio, 1940
Emma and Nello, in exile in Rio de Janeiro. Neri, Emma (1897-1978) – Italian anarchist and antifascist, she and her partner Nello Garavini escaped from fascist Italy and settled in Brazil; they participated in the anticlerical league, then returned to Italy in 1947 and continued participation in the anarchist movement (Anarcofemèrides (accessed 7/30/11)

In 1947 Emma, Nello and Giordana (now 23) returned permanently to Italy and settled in Castel Bolognese, resuming their old friendships and renewing the anarchist group which was rebuilt immediately after World War II.

Emma Neri, Nello Garavini i el ca Kim (Castel Bolognese, 1961)They joined the Italian Anarchist Federation (FAI) and participated in various meetings and conferences of this organization. In 1968 Nello took part in the Congress of the International Relations Committee of Anarchist Federations (CRIF) held in Carrara; Congress in 1972 in Rimini, the centenary of the founding of the International in Italy; and in 1976 Congress of Bakunin Studies in Venice.

Emma Neri, Nello Garavini and the dog  Kim (Castel Bolognese, 1961)

After the events of 1968, their home became an open meeting place for young anarchists. In 1973 they opened the “Casa Armando Borghi” to host the anarchist groups of Castel Bolognese and the Libertarian Library. In these years Nello completed his autobiography, titled Testimonianze.

On 2 February 1978 Emma died after an illness that lasted some months and her disappearance destroyed Nello’s strength. Her personal archive, is deposited in the Anarchist Library “Armando Borghi” in Castel Bolognese.

Nello Garavini died on February 14, 1985 in Castel Bolognese (Romagna, Italy) and, according to his will, the funeral was strictly private. His personal archive, is deposited in the Libertarian Library”Armando Borghi” in Castel Bolognese. In 2010 his autobiography entitled Testimonianze was published in Imola.

p127 (1)Their daughter Giordiana, also an anarchist, continued their work in Castel and still administered the Armando Borghi Library in 2008 in her 85th year.

Giordiana’ 80th birthday

see also..

Nuestro reconocimiento, agradecimiento y respeto por todxs ellxs.

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