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

Matilde Passigli Bonaventura (1895-1984)

Palma de Mallorca 28 February 1895 - Jerusalem 29 February 1984

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Enzo Bonaventura (Pisa 1891 - Jerusalem 1948), husband: professor of psychology fired from the Università di Firenze, he emigrated in March 1939 before his wife and children; he did not return to live in Italy.
  • David Bonaventura poi Ashery (Florence 1925 - Jerusalem 2000), son: he emigrated in 1939 with his mother and brothers to Jerusalem, and became a university professor of Greek and Roman history; he did not return to live in Italy.
  • Emanuel (Manolo) Bonaventura, later Ashery (Florence 1928 - ), son: he emigrated in 1939 with his mother and brothers to Jerusalem, dedicated himself to his shipping business, has been living mainly in Italy since the 1950s, and later in Paris.
  • Daniel Bonaventura poi Ashery (Florence 1936 - Tel Aviv 2018), son: he emigrated in 1939 with his mother and brothers to Jerusalem, and became a professor of experimental nuclear physics at Tel Aviv University; he did not return to live in Italy.
  • Ema or Emma Medina Passigli (Alessandria 22 May 1871 - Jerusalem 24 December 1948), mother: daughter of David Medina and Corinna Passigli, she married Alfredo Passigli (Florence 1869), a merchant in Spain, with whom she had three daughters and a son. Mercedes and Maud stayed with their father in Madrid, whereas she moved to Florence with her children Matilde and Said. She lived with him and his family in viale Volta 67, in the same street where Matilde lived. After the war, in the summer of 1947, she obtained a visa for Mandate Palestine. She moved to Jerusalem, to her recently widowed daughter, on 15 December 1948, and died nine days later.
  • Said or Saeed Passigli (Barcelona 4 December 1901 - Rome 22 February 1980), brother: he moved from Spain to Italy with Matilde and their mother, while his father and sister Mercedes (later married to Gonzalo Garcia Gonzales), lived and died in Madrid and Cordoba respectively. He married Liana Coen Pirani (Pisa 14 June 1906 - Auschwitz 8 February 1945), and had their son Armando (Florence 8 March 1938) and Mariella. In 1943 they hid in the Rufina area; on 29 February 1944 his wife Liana was arrested, sent to the Fossoli camp and on 16 May 1944 deported to Auschwitz. In 1970 Said remarried in Rome to Gladis Marchesi; he died in Rome in 1980.


Effective References:

  • Director of the Berlitz School of Jerusalem (1940-49 circa).

Support network

  • Hiram Peri (Heinz Pflaum, 1900-1962), an expert on the Italian Renaissance and professor of Romance languages and literatures at the Hebrew University: in 1949 he proposed her candidacy as lecturer of Spanish and Italian at HU.


1895Palma de Mallorca



High School and University Studies; Beginning of Artistic Career

  • Girls' school Alliance Française; University of Madrid; actress and opera singer.
  • Student,Freelance job
  • Artist/Musician,Teacher

Marriage and Transfer to Italy

  • Not employed

Emigration to Palestine

  • The Berlitz Schools of Jerusalem; Hebrew University.
  • Not employed,Unemployed,Fixed-term employment,Stable employment
  • Teacher,Tenured professor

Scholarship offered by the Spanish government

  • Universidad de Salamanca
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Untenured professor

Back in Israel

  • Fixed-term employment
  • Untenured professor