museo cervi a reggio emilia

Museo Cervi at Reggio Emilia: the history of an anti-Fascist family

The Museo Cervi at Reggio Emilia is a genuinely important museum because it tells the story of the seven Cervi brothers and Quarto Camurri. Located in via Fratelli Cervi 9 at Gattatico, this is a historical treasure, a museum of the anti-Fascist Resistance and of the history of the peasant movement, located in the very house when the Cervi family lived from 1934. Every year, it receives a huge number of visitors, including school parties, who come to see this important piece of our history: this is why they come.

Museo Cervi: history

The idea of creating a museum to the Italian Resistance and the history of the peasant movement dates back to the 1960s when Alcide Cervi, father of the seven brothers, decided to donate his collection relating to the great sacrifice of his sons to the Council of Gattatico and the Province of Reggio Emilia. But let us follow the story: the Cervi were a large family of bonded-farmers from the Low Reggio region. Apart from father Alcide and mother Genoveffa Cocconi, there were seven sons (Gelindo, Antenore, Aldo, Agostino, Ferdinando, Ovidio, Ettore) and two daughters, Diomira and Caterina. Even if they were very poor, the Cervi worked hard to improve their lives, and to bring about social change: as bonded-farmers, they had no territory of their own, but when they found out that the Campi Rossi (red camps) were available at an extremely low price, they decided to rent it and move there. Everyone considered them “crazy” because no-one believed that you could cultivate the Campi Rossi. But the Cervi proved everyone wrong.

On an ideological level, the Cervi were deeply anti-fascist: at the end of the 1920s, Aldo was imprisoned in the prison at Gaeta for three years. During this time, he devoted himself to studying the works of Gramsci and Marx, and once home, he decided to create a mobile library full of books banned by the Fascist regime. As freedom of action and speech started to decline even further, the Cervi family started to actively oppose Fascism, carrying out acts of sabotage against the regime, damaging the high-tension wires that supplied power to the factories in Reggio Emilia that produced war material. Many anti-fascists had contributed to this activity up to the night of 24/25 November 1943, when the seven brothers and Quarto Camurri were captured, taken to the Servi prison in Reggio Emilia and summarily shot at dawn on 28 December 1943, at the archery field at Reggio Emilia. The Facists defined the executions as a reprisal: the Cervi brothers were in fact accused of plotting the murder of the secretary of the Fascist Party in Bagnolo in Piano (Reggio Emilia). The father, also captured, was spared, and so was later able to gather together a collection of documents on peasant life and the historical events that constitute the central focus of the Museum.

Today, the Cervi Museo at Reggio Emilia organises activities for schools, exhibitions and research. Open all year, it offers free guided tours for schools and groups, subject to booking. It features a bookshop, a library, and a video library. You can also see historical works on the war, the Italian Resistenza, the Cervi family, and the annals published by the Cervi Institute since 1979.

For more information, please visit the official Museum website.


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