Category Archives: Giovina Fioravanti

More on Giovina Fioravanti

After I added the post on Giovina Fioravanti to the Camp 59 Survivors site this week, I heard from Joely Carter. Giovina is her husband’s grandmother. On her blog, iwishiwasalandgirl.wordpress.com, she has shared some personal reminiscences:

“My husband’s grandmother, Bella, has always been larger than life. A typical Italian matriarch, she is fiery and protective, and always wants to feed you! When I first met her around 7 years ago, I was struck by how beautiful and elegant she was, and couldn’t believe it when she told me she was 86! Bella is a term of endearment, her real name being Giovina Fioravanti. Originally, Bella aspired to be an actress however on the outbreak of World War II Bella volunteered her services to her country. Over the years, Bella has shared many stories with me, the most memorable being that during a boat crossing from Albania back to Italy, a Bulgarian man had taken a bullet for her using his body as a shield. When I first went to her house, I was proudly shown a certificate, which was hanging in the dining room. Bella explained that this was for bravery during the War, but never elaborated on what she had done to obtain this. It was always assumed that this was an award given to all Italians who played their part in the War.

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A Heroine Recognized

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Giovina Fioravanti, circa 1940s, and a more recently photo on the Isle of Wight

I received an e-mail late last month from Isabelle Burberry on the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England.

She wrote, “I am in possession of the Certificate of Gratitude signed by Field-Marshall H.R. Alexander awarded to my Mother, Fioravanti Giovina. My Mother is extremely proud of said Certificate and would show it off to all and sundry even to this day. However, I was completely unaware of the story behind the Certificate until a search on the internet led me to your site.”

“I’m not really sure exactly what it was that my mother did, but presume it was to provide help. I know that she was with the Red Cross, and I seem to remember that she had been in Albania and was travelling back down from the North to the South of Italy to be reunited with her family.”

Giovina’s family lived about an hour south of Rome.

The certificates, signed by Field Marshal Harold Alexander, commander of Allied forces in Italy, were issued to a select group of Italians who had risked their lives to protect escaped British POWs and evaders (soldiers evading capture in enemy territory) during German occupation of their homeland.

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