A short biography of Italian anarchist Guido Nencini, martyred by the Fascists.
“While the clock in Volterra struck 10 o'clock in the evening and we were already hidden in the middle of the wall in a small hole with the other two comrades of my cell and when at three in the morning under an intense rain we came out of the hiding place that we could not move from for five hours, I took a last look at my comrades’ cells and in particular at cell no. 10, where my most faithful comrade Guido Nencini was imprisoned, that the Court of Florence sentenced to life imprisonment and which meant death, I got over the last obstacle that separated me from freedom, and that was the last look and the last goodbye, continuing my path that fate had assigned me “. Oscar Scarselli.
Guido Nencini was born in Certaldo in the Florence region of Tuscany on September 24th 1896. His father was Gabriello, a rebellious character who worked as a carriage driver, and his mother was Maddalena Zanaboni. As a boy, he started work in a pasta factory and joined the group of the Uniona Communista Anarchica Italiana (UCAI) founded by Ferruccio Scarselli (see the various biographies of the Scarselli family here at libcom).
Guido took part in the events that took place in Certaldo on February 28th, 1921, which led to the deaths of the socialist engineer Catullo Masini, the death of Ferruccio Scarselli and the wounding of Egisto Scarselli and of a carabiniere.
Masini was mortally wounded by fire from the house of a fascist family. However, despite testimony from Masini’s sister and others, Guido Nencini was accused of his murder.Indeed Guido knew the Masini family well and was a good friend of Catullo Masini. Catullo told his sister Ebe whilst dying that "The fascists killed me, it was those fascists”.
Guido had recently become the father of a boy whose mother was the anarchist Elisa Veracini, herself to be sentenced to seven months imprisonment after the Certaldo events. Despite this he went into hiding, joining the Banda dello Zoppo (Band of the Lame) set up by Oscar Scarselli.
On 25th June1921, near San Vivaldo, the Band dello Zopo kidnapped a fascist landowner, Mario Filippi, in order to obtain a substantial ransom to fund their group. In a shootout with carabinieri and fascists Filippi was wounded and died the following day. Guido was identified by a witness and described as “looking like an angel” “with long blond hair”.
When the group disbanded , Guido tried to escape to Switzerland but was arrested at Ventimiglia on 10th August 1921, along with another member of the Band, Alfredo Veracini. He did not take part in the daring escape from prison of Oscar Scarselli in 1924 because he was ill at the time. At his trial which eventually took place in Florence in 1925, Guido denied that he had shot Masini and spat in the face of a witness who had testified against him. As regards the killing of Filippi there is evidence that he might have died from “friendly fire” from the carabinieri and the fascists. Guido was sentenced to life, whilst other anarchist defendants, Ulisse Logli, Alfredo Arrigoni, Danilo and Egisto Scarselli, Narciso Montagnani, Guido Puccini, Guido Calastri and Nello Poggi, were sentenced to sentences ranging from 12 to 30 years of imprisonment. Guido listened impassively to the verdict.
Guido was sent to the hellish penitentiary on the little island of San Stefano. Here he suffered five years of terrible treatment. At the end of the 1940s Giuseppina Nencini daughter by a second marriage ofGuido’s father Gabbriello, managed a restaurant in Rieti with her husband. One day the postman gave her a letter from her family and asked if she was related to a Sato Stefano prisoner. When she confirmed this, he told her that he had been imprisoned , under fascism, in a cell close to Guido’s. He described the appalling treatment that Guido had suffered and that he had been put in an underground cell often flooded by water. HE was given a bucket so that the water level did not rise too high and reach the table on which he was forced to sleep. He was constantly exposed to cold and damp, and given little to eat.
Guido Nencini died on October 28th, 1926. His family was informed that he had died of acute enterocolitis, but they were immediately suspicious about his death. He was buried in the small cemetery of Santo Stefano, near the grave of the anarchist Gaetano Bresci, assassin of King Umberto I, who had died under similar circumstances.