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Mille Miglia

The approval of Turati and Giarratana

As Canestrini states in 1967: «Thousands of letters, statements and newsletters poured into Italy, appealing to prefects, provincial delegations, Automobile Clubs, Italian Touring Club Consuls, journalists, sports clubs, parishes, ecclesiastic authorities, carabinieri (Italian military police), military units and fascist political secretaries (...)

In the meantime, we had carried out all necessary tasks and tested the public opinion, as well as other official scenes. But not all of our plans went well.

The first official and worrisome reactions came from the Presidency of the Automobile Club of Italy. Having casually received word that Silvio Crespi was preparing to do something with his party and the government to protest the opposition of the pre-announced Brescian race, I quickly alerted Aymo Maggi».

Maggi - through Alfredo Giarratana (director of the daily, "Popolo di Brescia", currently known as the Brescia Journal, powerful politician and member of A.C. B.'s executive board) - is quick to get an appoinment in Rome with Augusto Turati and rushes down to the capital on February 8, 1927. The following day he returns with a signed letter by the Secretariat of the NFP that states: "I am following with great interest the preparations and organization of the «MILLE MIGLIA CUP».

I AM CERTAIN THAT THE RACE WILL SUCCEED JUST FINE. FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH, I OFFER YOU MY FULL COURSE OF ACTION. ALALÀ, TURATI".

The four friends of the Mille Miglia were not very hopeful, the major obstacle having been overcome; what was Turati's course of action worth? As much as that of the segretariat of the only political party, in a country under complete regime. These certainly were not the right times, nor was it the proper subject for a debate. In 1930, Canestrini waxed sarcastic: «And the fearful, the prudent, the critics appeased themselves while the organizers, with renewed enthusiasm, intensified the arresting preparations, by now certain of success».

Things did not just become easy going and the difficulties to be surmounted were still many, as were the resistance to some scenes, siding with the more extreme factions of the fascist party than to Turati.

Alfredo Giarratana's testimony is of great interest in his lengthy article, "How the Mille Miglia was born", included in the 1932 magazine, "Brescia".

Giarratana had an important role in the organization of the Mille Miglia, prewar. His post was quickly doomed to be forgotten, if not for a few citations by Canestrini regarding his journalism, given his leading role during fascism.

His name was linked to that of Augusto Turati, with whom he shared many professional and political endeavours, both having come from liberal backgrounds and siding with the interventionists.

Having studied in anticlerical circles, then on to an internship in "zanardellian" journalism, they were considered the "bosses" of Brescian fascism. According to documents from that period, they were highly esteemed by their adversaries. Augusto Turati was originally from Parma, where he was born, in 1888.

Extremely young, he stood out as a fencer; he caused quite a stir with his victory in San Remo against the world foil champion. He soon became a journalist and trade unionist.

In 1921, he ran for a political post without being elected.

Two years later, his influence in Brescia is nonetheless noteworthy, enough so to convince some industries to finance the opening of "Il popolo di Brescia", that changed its name from "Il popolo d'italia", the fascist party daily. With the brutal closing of "The Sentinel" in 1925, Brescia's oldest daily, "Il popolo di Brescia" becomes the only newspaper on the streets, taking over "The Citizen".

In 1924, both Turati and Giarratana are elected to Parlament, in that which becomes defined as the "burletta elections".

On March 31,1926, Augusto Turati is nominated by Mussolini as leader of the Fascist Party, but is disliked by members of the fascist military squad, in particular by "Ras di Cremona", the feared Farinacci.

His power doesn't last long. Re-elected to the House in 1929, like Giarratana, he will pay for not siding with his party's extreme political views during the course of that same year. Il Duce has him dismissed from his assignment, defining him as "a polished comrade in a black silk shirt".

So as to make his purging seem less abrupt, Turati was offered a job as the Director of Turin's daily, "la Stampa". Not even a year later, in 1930, he was exiled to the island of Rodi, where he lived selling candied fruits and raisins.

 

At the time of his nomination in Rome, in 1926, Giarratana had replaced him, assuming the Director's post at "Il popolo di Brescia". Having remained tied to his oldtime friend, like the majority of Brescians, Giarratana also fell into disgrace in 1938.