Davour la Mont and the story of Virginia Tonelli ‘Luisa’

Davour la Mont and the story of Virginia Tonelli 'Luisa'

The village, abandoned after the earthquake and in ruins, was recently brought back to light thanks to the efforts of volunteers from the Spilimbergese section of the ANPI and the ZeroAsfalto association. Davour la mont, which means “behind the mountain”, is one of the most significant places for the Resistance in Western Friuli. Virginia Tonelli “Luisa” was born here in 1903, a Gold Medal winner for Military Valour, tortured and burnt in the Risiera di San Sabba, the only Nazi camp in Italy, in Trieste, in September 1944.
Orphaned by her father, the fifth of seven children, Virginia was forced to leave the school she loved so much and to work from the age of eleven. The land offered no opportunities and many emigrated in search of fortune. So did Virginia, who worked for a while at the children’s hospital on the Lido di Venezia and then moved to France, where she married Pietro Zampollo “Guido”, a member of the PCI who left immediately after the wedding to fight in Spain.
Virginia joined the PCI in 1935. Her house was a reference point for Italian anti-fascists in France. In May 1943, when she returned to Castelnovo, she drew on her French experience and became involved in organising women and, after the fall of fascism, took on a leadership role for the local anti-fascist communist groups, holding meetings and small assemblies in her home, creating partisan units and organising the armed struggle. Tonelli’s house was a safe place to meet and take refuge. Virginia set up the Women’s Defence Groups, with the task of supporting the fight of the partisan formations, and also started a tailor’s shop in Campone. From December 1943, considered extremely reliable, she worked as a partisan relay girl between the Garibaldian Committee of Mount Ciaurlec and the Friuli Federation of the PCI and the National Liberation Committee of Udine.
“I’m frightened by the idea of not being able to keep my mouth shut if they arrest me,” she said.
Arrested in September 1944 on one of the many clandestine missions, no trace of her ever left the Risiera.
In addition to Davour la Mont, there is also a monument to the memory of Virginia Tonelli “Luisa” in Paludea.
The contribution made to the Resistance by the people of Castelnovo, workers, artisans, peasants and returning emigrants, was very important, above the national average.
Among the ruins of Davour la Mont, opposite what remains of Virginia’s house, is the house of the spagnoi, the eleven Tonelli brothers, anti-fascists, fighters in Spain and France and partisans. The Garibaldi stage command was based there.

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