Patrizia Guarnieri

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy.

Migrants, Exiles and Refugees Fleeing for Political and Racial Reasons

©2019-Author(s) Published by Firenze University Press
e-ISBN: 978-88-6453-872-3 | DOI: 10.36253/978-88-6453-872-3

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy

Carlo Rosselli (1899-1937)

Rome 16 November 1899 - Bagnoles-de-l'Orne (France) 9 June 1937

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Emigrant family members

  • Marion Cave Rosselli (Riseley, UK, 1 December 1896 - London 13 October 1949), wife: descendant of a quacker and socialist family, arrived in Florence after graduation with a scholarship in 1919. She taught English at the British Institute and, through Gaetano Salvemini, met Carlo, whom she married in 1926. In 1929, after a short arrest for complicity in her husband's escape from the confino in Lipari, she emigrated to France with her son John. There she had Amelia (Melina) and Andrea (Aghi). Widowed, she spent periods in France, Switzerland, and the UK with her children. In August 1940, she reunited with her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and children in Larchmont, NY. Despite being ill, she kept fighting against fascism. She returned to Italy in 1946 with her family but decided to return to the UK in 1947. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • John Giovanni Andrea Rosselli (Florence 8 June 1927 - Cambridge 16 January 2001), son: in 1929, he emigrated to Paris with his mother when he was two and followed her to the US in 1940, where he attended university. In 1946, he moved to the UK, became a journalist for the "Guardian" and, since 1964, a history professor at the University of Brighton. In 1956 he married Eleanor (Nicky) Timbres, and they had two sons: Mark and David (1958); he was widowed in 1989. In 1995, he moved from Cambridge to San Rocco a Pilli (Siena) and then to Florence with Elisa Benaim Sarfatti. He returned to Italy when he was 68.
  • Amelia "Melina" Rosselli (Paris 28 March 1930 - Rome 11 February 1996), daughter: in 1937, she was brought by her grandmother Amelia to Switzerland with her siblings and then followed her family’s relocations: in 1938 to the UK and in 1940 to the US. She returned to Italy in 1946 but immediately went back to the UK to study, where she also took an interest in theatre, music, and poetry. She returned to Italy in 1949. In 1950, she moved to Rome, where she later committed suicide. She returned to Italy.
  • Andrea (Andrew) "Aghi" Rosselli (Paris 12 March 1931 - Columbus, Indiana, 31 July 2021), son: from Paris, he followed his family: to Switzerland in 1937 (when he was six), to the US in 1940, to Italy in 1946, and then immediately to the UK, where he studied at the Imperial College in London and married Christine Muriel Davies (London 25 December 1927 - Columbus, Indiana, 24 January 1996); they had two sons: Nicholas and Paul. In 1967 they moved to the US, where Andrea worked as an engineer specialising in diesel engines. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Amelia Pincherle Moravia Rosselli (Venice 16 January 1870 - Florence 26 December 1954), mother: married to musician Giuseppe Emanuele (Joe) Rosselli (Livorno 10 August 1867 - Florence 9 September 1911) until 1903, she had three sons: Aldo (Wien 1895 - Pal Piccolo, Udine, 1916), who died in the war, Carlo in 1899, and Sabatino "Nello" in 1900, both murdered on 9 June 1937. A writer, theatrical author, suffragist, and anti-fascist, in 1937, she went to Paris and emigrated at first to Switzerland, then to the UK, and to Larchmont, NY, in 1940 with her daughters-in-law and grandchildren. She returned to Italy in 1946, when she was 76.
  • Maria Vittoria Todesco Rosselli (Padua 9 August 1905 - Bagno a Ripoli, Florence, 30 July 1998), sister-in-law: descendant of a wealthy Jewish family, she married Nello in December 1926. After her husband’s murder, she emigrated to Switzerland with her mother-in-law Amelia and her children Silvia, Paolo, and Aldo, temporarily leaving Alberto to her mother, Luisa Todesco. In 1938, they emigrated to the UK, where they were joined by Marion and her children and, in 1940, to the US. She returned to Italy with her family in 1946, publishing Nello’s work. She joined the Radical Party. She returned to Italy.
  • Silvia Rosselli Forti (Rome 1928), niece: after her uncle and father’s murder, she emigrated with her mother to Switzerland in 1937 when she was nine and later followed her family to the UK in 1938, the US in 1940, and Italy in 1946. She became a psychoanalyst, a pupil of Ernst Bernhard. In 1948, she married Francesco Forti and had three children: Manuela, Flaminia and Giovanni (1954-1992), who became a journalist for "L’Espresso" and a prominent figure in the homosexual liberation movement in the 1990s. She returned to Italy.
  • Francesco Forti (Florence 24 May 1927), nephew, Silvia’s husband: musician and critic, pioneered jazz in Italy. He took refuge in Switzerland with his family in 1943, when he was 16, until the end of the war. In 1948, he married Silvia Rosselli; the couple had three children. He eventually remarried Donatella Ziliotto. He returned to Italy.
  • Paola Rosselli Forti (Florence 6 November 1929), niece: emigrated to Switzerland when she was eight with her mother and siblings in 1937 and then followed her family to the UK in 1938, the US in 1940, and Italy in 1946. She married Marco Forti in 1948 and had three children: Laura and Camilla in 1949 and Nello in 1954. She worked as a translator. She returned to Italy and lives in Milan.
  • Marco Forti (Florence 3 October 1925 - Milan 9 May 2019), nephew, Paola’s husband: a literary critic, emigrated to Switzerland as a boy with his family in 1943 until the end of the war. In 1948, he married Paola; they had three children. He worked for Olivetti and Mondadori. He returned to Italy.
  • Aldo Rosselli (Florence 8 December 1934 - Rome 2 October 2013), nephew: emigrated to Switzerland with his mother when he was three, after his uncle and father’s murder in 1937. He then followed his family to the UK and US and returned with them to Italy in 1946. A writer, he worked in the publishing industry. He married Emilia Ca’Zorzi and had three children: Monica, Giacomo, and Niccolò. He eventually remarried Lily Smith. He returned to Italy.
  • Alberto Rosselli (Florence 1 May 1937), nephew: he was only 40 days old when his father was murdered. He was temporarily entrusted to his maternal grandmother when his mother emigrated to Switzerland in 1937. After rejoining his family, he followed them to the UK, the US, and Italy in 1946. He worked in theatre and lived in Florence; he married Tania Gensini and has two sons: Tommaso and Gabriele. He returned to Italy.
  • Sara "Sarina" Nathan Levi (Livorno 16 July 1884 - Florence 22 December 1967), second cousin: daughter of Philip Nathan (the brother of Carlo’s grandmother) and Clelia Rosselli, she belonged to a prominent Italian political family: her grandmother had been close to Mazzini and her uncle Ernesto was mayor of Rome from 1907 to 1913. She married Alessandro Levi in 1911. An anti-fascist, she took refuge with him in Switzerland in 1943, leaving Florence. She returned to Italy.
  • Alessandro Levi (Venice 19 November 1881 - Bern 6 September 1953), second cousin: Sara’s husband: anti-fascist, university professor expelled because of the racial laws, he decided not to emigrate to South America and, in autumn 1943, took refuge in Switzerland until the end of the war. In 1948, when he was 64, he resumed his teaching position. He returned to Italy.
  • Vittorio Mortara (? 30 September 1879 - Milan 1949), cousin: widow of Emilia De Angelis, who died in 1918, he had two daughters, Margherita later Crema and Luisa later Ottolenghi, and a son, Alberto. With him and his family, he took refuge in Switzerland on 24 May 1944. He returned to Italy when he was 66.
  • Alberto Mortara (Venice 25 April 1909 - Milan 17 February 1990), second cousin: graduated from Milan in law, he directed the statistical office of the Confederazione generale dei lavoratori del commercio until 1938. He was expelled as a Jew and worked in the Italian branch of the British Home Store. In December 1942, he married Alice Feldstein and soon had a daughter, Elèna. After the war, they had Andrea and Paola. He was arrested in 1943 but managed to escape and joined the Resistance. On 24 May 1944, he took refuge in Switzerland with his wife, his newborn daughter, and his father. After the war, he worked again as a manager and participated in politics with the Pd’A and Adriano Olivetti’s Movimento Comunità. He returned to Italy.
  • Alice "Lizzie" Feldstein Mortara (Kostel, Austro-Hungarian Empire, today Czech Republic, 29 September 1914 - Milan 1 January 2008), second cousin: descendant of a Jewish family from Wien, in 1937 she arrived in Milan with a scholarship and decided to stay there after the German annexation of Austria. In 1942, she married Alberto Mortara and, in May 1942, she took refuge in Switzerland with him, their daughter Elèna, and her father-in-law Vittorio until the end of the war. She returned to Italy.




Family transfer


In the army



  • Diploma at the Istituto tecnico; graduated in Political Sciences at the Istituto Cesare Alfieri
  • Student

Short stay


University student

  • University of Siena, faculty of Law
  • Student

Short trip


University assistant

  • Bocconi University
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Junior lecturer
1924United Kingdom



University professor

  • Istituto superiore di scienze economiche e commerciali; 1925 founded the «Non Mollare» in Florence; 1926 founded the «Quarto stato» in Milan
  • Stable employment
  • Journalist,Tenured professor
1926Marina di Carrara


  • He organised and carried out the plan to bring Filippo Turati out of Italy illegally





Trial and conviction


At the confino


Escape and emigration to France

  • Founded Giustizia e Libertà in Paris

Volunteer in the Spanish Civil War


Return to France

1937Bagnoles-de-l'Orne (France)