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

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)

Florence 3 April 1895 - Beverly Hills (California), 16 March 1968

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Clara Forti Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Prato 3 April 1894 – Los Angeles 18 January 1989) wife: she came from a wealthy and numerous family of Jewish industrialists. On 13 July 1939, she emigrated with her husband and their children to the USA, leaving Trieste. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Pietro Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Florence 5 January 1925 – Nashville 24 January 1998), son: he emigrated with his family to the USA in July 1939, when he was 14, and later became a psychiatrist. He had two daughters. Diana and Costanza. They never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Lorenzo Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Florence 17 November 1930 – Los Angeles 14 June 2000), son: he emigrated with his family to the USA in July 1939, when he was only eight, and later became an architect. He had two sons: Marc and Greg. They never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Ugo Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Florence 15 July 1890 - Florence 1984), brother: criminal defence lawyer, an opponent of Fascism, was arrested and spent a few months in the Florentine prison of Le Murate before being sent to the confino. He escaped to Switzerland in the night between 21 and 22 January 1944. He returned as soon as possible to Italy and resumed his work and his personal relations in Florence in August 1944.
  • Paola Cavalieri Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Ferrara 21 August 1897- Florence 28 February 1968), sister-in-law, Ugo's wife: probably reached Switzerland before him, as their son Michele lived there. She returned to Italy immediately after the Liberation.
  • Michele Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Florence 3 July 1924 - Florence 6 January 1990), nephew: after the racial laws, his parents sent him to study in Switzerland, where he graduated from the University of Lausanne. He married Adriana Milla in London in 1956. Later, he became an associate in his father Ugo's law firm, and then president of the Fondiaria Assicurazioni. He returned to Italy.
  • Olga Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Florence 27 July 1925 - Florence 24 February 2017), niece: crossed the border with Switzerland on 1 February 1944, reuniting with her parents Ugo and Paola. She married Giovanni Piva (Florence 21 October 1924 - Limeil-Brévannes 10 April 2017) and had a daughter, Marinetta (Florence 6 April 1952) Olga graduated in medicine and taught at the University of Florence. She returned to Italy.
  • Aldo Forti (Prato, 12 July 1892 - ?), brother-in-law, Clara's brother: industrialists, took refuge in Switzerland with his wife Elena Grazzini (a Protestant, later baptised as a Catholic), and their five children, born between 1925 and 1938. Aldo had given his shares of the family firm to his wife, to avoid it being listed as a Jewish company. As refugees in Switzerland, they worked in the refugee camp: Aldo in the kitchen and his teenage sons Marco and Francesco did cleaning. In July 1948 the two brothers married the sisters Paola and Silvia Rosselli. They returned to Italy.
  • Paola Forti Liuzzi (Prato 1893- ?), sister-in-law, Clara's sister: in 1940 her husband Fernando Liuzzi died, and she took refuge in Switzerland with her children: Franco (29 at the time), Maria Luce (27, married to Antonio Amendola, at the time hospitalised, son of the famous statesman Giovanni); and her granddaughter Eva Paola. They crossed the border clandestinely near Ascona on 24 February 1944. They returned to Italy.
  • Fernando Liuzzi (Senigallia 19 December 1884 - Florence 6 October 1940), brother-in-law: he was a musician, a music critic, and a music historian. He emigrated from France to the USA on 30 August 1939, and began teaching at Columbia University. However, due to his deteriorating health, he returned to Italy, where he died in 1940.
  • Giorgio Forti (Prato 9 July 1897- ?), brother-in-law, Clara's brother: textile industrialist, managed to obtain the discriminazione on 27 September 1939. With his wife Raffaela, he created the DELASEM in Florence in 1942. They had three children. Their home in via Benedetto Varchi was confiscated by the RSI. They took refuge in Switzerland in June 1944, claiming they were Catholics, but of Jewish origins and anti-fascists. They returned to Italy.
  • Piera Forti Tedeschi (Prato 8 November 1904 – Madison, Wisconsin 13 January 1990), sister-in-law, Clara's sister: she emigrated with her husband Cesare and their children Guido and Luca to the USA on 22 September 1939, leaving from Genoa. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Cesare Giorgio Tedeschi (Ferrara 14 August 1904 – Framingham Massachusetts 26 June 1974), brother-in-law: MD and libero docente since 1932, disbarred from the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Ferrara, he managed to obtain the discriminazione on 24 March 1939. He emigrated with his wife, Piera, and their sons in September 1939 to the USA, where he practised as a pathologist and taught at the Boston School of Medicine. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Guido Tedeschi, later John Alfred Tedeschi (Modena 17 July 1931 – ), nephew: he emigrated to the USA with his family when he was 8 in 1939 and later became a librarian and a modernist historian. He was the curator of the Department of Special Collections in the Memorial Library of the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Together with his wife Anne, he translated from Italian several volumes of history. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Luca Tedeschi, later Luke (Modena 1 November 1934 – Hingham Massachusetts 5 August 2010), nephew: he moved to the USA with his parents and brother in 1939, when he was only five. He later became a doctor. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Mario Cesare Forti (Prato 17 July 1898 - Los Angeles 19 November 1983), cousin, son of Giulio Forti, Clara’s uncle: textile industrialist; after the racial laws, he left Florence with his sick wife and two daughters and remained for a period in Switzerland, where his wife was treated. They left France on 4 August 1939 to go to New York and then to San Diego, where they claimed they had a relative in Berkeley, CA. They settled in Los Angeles, where they often spent time with the Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He was naturalised in 1945 and frequently visited Italy. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Milka Grunstein Forti (Thessaloniki, Greece 14 June 1904 - Los Angeles 19 November 2003), cousin: married to Tuscan industrialist Mario Forti in Milan in 1927, lived in Florence. With her husband, their daughters, and a French nurse to assist her after a prolonged period of sickness she spent in Berne, on 4 August 1939, she boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam in Boulogne. The family settled in Los Angeles. She returned to Italy in 1948 with her daughter Simonetta and later made more trips. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Anna Palma Forti (Florence, 17 August 1929 - Concord, California 2 July 2017), cousin: disbarred from her school when she was nine as a Jew, in 1939 with her parents and sister, she left Italy to go to Switzerland and, in August, they emigrated to Los Angeles. In July 1948, she married the American Robert Rail (1922 - 2013), and they had one child, Steven. They later divorced. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Simonetta (then Simone) Forti (Florence 25 March 1935 - ), cousin: with his parents and older sister, she left Italy after the racial laws and, when she was four, in August 1939, they left for New York, intending to move to California. She attended school in Los Angeles and Oregon and moved to San Francisco and New York with her first husband, Robert Morris. She became a prominent post-modernist artist, dancer, choreographer, and writer. After divorcing her second husband, Robert Withman (another artist), she lived and worked in Rome from 1965 to 1970 but later returned to the USA. Her art has been displayed and represented at the Moma and in many important European museums. In 2021 she had an exhibit at the Pecci in Prato. She never returned to Italy permanently.


  • Elena (Madeleine) Boutwell von Weber (Boston 15 September 1905 – 1990), lyric singer and patron, Boston: she provided the reference for Castelnuovo to embark to reach New York in 1939.

Support network

  • Jascha Heifetz (Vilnius 2 February 1901 – Los Angeles 10 December 1987), Lithuanian violinist, a naturalised citizen of the USA: he signed the affidavit needed by Castelnuovo to obtain his American immigration visa.
  • Albert Spalding (Chicago 15 August 1888 – New York 26 May 1953), violinist: he helped Castelnuovo find work in the USA.
  • Arturo Toscanini (Parma 26 March 1867 – New York 16 January 1957), orchestra director: he helped Castelnuovo find work in the USA.
  • Gisella Selden-Goth (Budapest 1884 – Florence 1975), pianist and musicologist: welcomed the Castelnuovos upon their arrival in New York.
  • Oscar Levi, later Landi (Trieste 20 April 1903 – New York 14 November 1958), radiologist: welcomed the Castelnuovos upon their arrival in New York.



Birth and education

  • Student,Freelance job
  • Artist/Musician
1939New York

Arrival in the USA

1939Larchmont (NY)

First accommodation

  • Freelance job
  • Artist/Musician
1940Los Angeles

Hollywood composer

  • Fixed term contract working for the Metro Goldwin Mayer
  • Freelance job,Fixed-term employment
  • Artist/Musician
1943Beverly Hills (LA)

New house

  • Freelance job
  • Artist/Musician,Teacher

Trip to Italy to investigate the possibility of coming back

1948Beverly Hills (LA)

Return to the USA

  • Freelance job
  • Artist/Musician
1968Beverly Hills (LA)