Preventorio Infantile Rocco Chiapponi
After 4 long days we found ourselves at this last location on our itinery after a long drive through the winding mountain roads of Northern Italy. With Kat - Obscure Serenity and Becci - NInja Kitten we parked up gulped our water to cool down and made our way inside this large complex of buildings. Access was easy due to the extensive dereliction of the building and we spent a coiuple of hours inside getting our shots and exploring this historic building.
History is vast and after some internet research I was able to determine some of the historical past of this place from its initial purpose to treat children with tuberculosis and for the prevention of respiratory diseases in general in Piacenza, to the time it was requisitioned by the partisan troops during the 2nd WW to its final use in the post-war period as a health center for respiratory diseases until its final closure.
The building was opened as PREVENTORY OF BRAMAIANO DI BETTOLA medical centre for children in 1937 for the prevention and treatment of respiratory diseases, especially tuberculosis in the Piacenza region of Northern Italy. Its location, high up in the mountains provided the fresh healthy air to aid in the recovery process for the children.
The building was founded by Rocco Chiapponi a rich landowner and agricultural entrepreneur of Castel San Giovanni, who had helped found the Antitubercular Consortium; he died in 1938 just before the inauguration of the structure which was ultimately dedicated to him.
The building complex is divided within three levels with a small chapel on the second floor with mini sacristy. Gardens as areas of tranquility surrounded the buildings as areas of recuperation.
During the 2nd WW, the building was not in operation and the building was requisitioned by the partisan troops of commander Emilio Canzi, who commissioned the young medical student Ettore Valdini to set up beds and equip an operating room.
On 29 August, dozens of partisans were transferred and treated. By mid-October the beds had grown to 65. The hospital structure had an operating room and a radioscopic apparatus, to which other devices were added; so the medical team were engaged in a huge amount of activity. The staff employed were fifteen people: a doctor, three medical students, a health aide, four nurses, a procurement officer, drivers and fatigue men along with nuns. With spacious dorms and all the necessary equipment that was needed, it was able to respond to the demands of the war and in effect become a real hospital to treat the Partisans and wider population.
The doctors who worked there became famous and are still today a symbol of a particular partisan resistance, where they endangered their lives and utilised their skills to help liberate Italy from the dictatorship of the time. Until the arrival of Piero Cavaciuti, the management of the hospital was in the hands of Valdini.
It is considered that hundreds of partisans of the Piacenza formations owe their salvation and their lives to this hospital.
At the end of November the Preventory-Hospital was evicted and occupied by the Nazi-fascist troops.
The sign at the front of the building, translated says:
Hospital xiii partisan area
August - November 44
Here they worked in noble human solidarity, doctors and students in medicine partisans to help and alleviate the suffering that the atrocities of the struggle inflicted on the partisans and population of the area. all fighters of a people's war are tyrannical and for the freedom of men.
In the post-war period, the building became a health center for respiratory diseases until the end of the 1960s.
After closing, the property consisting of the main building, building, services, guardian house and about 70,000 sq'm of land passed to the provincial administration and the USL.
An informaton sign opposite the building reads as follows:
talking about the health service, a separate chapter deserves the partisan hospital established to the preventive Rocco Chiapponi. Operation: a miracle of efficiency given time and resources. His life of three months: a succession of moments between the impossible and the incredible. His team: a group of young people, prepared, courageous and generous.
We did not have penicillin. but the courage and the youth of the patients
Partisan Apennines paths of pleasure