Scene 1: Avanetti, Italy
Two young men, one driving his topless Model T and the other with his feet up on top of the car's door, were singing vividly to the tune of 'That's Amore' by Dean Martin, driving through the Italian countryside. The hills were a bright vivid green, while the surrounding flowers were a fine shade of bubblegum pink and lilac. The scents wafted through the air as the two men drove by. As they passed a small dirt path, two young children, a young boy named Giacomo and a young girl named Bianca were on their small tricycles. The young girl, small with light blonde hair, looked up and tapped Giacomo on the shoulder.
"Vedi! Vedi! Ciao, Nicoletta!" she cried out to a neighborhood teen by the name of Nicoletta Braschellini. Nicoletta had dark hair and matching brown eyes. She was a fine young woman of sixteen years and was often seen riding through the streets of Avanetti. On this particular day in late August of 1939, the young girl had been wearing a red dress, blazer and matching red beret.
"Ciao, bella!" cried young Giacomo, who secretly had a crush on the young girl from her Jewish family. Nicoletta giggled slightly as she passed them.
"Ciao, Giacomo! Ciao, Bianca!" Nicoletta called to them as she rode by. She rode down many curved roads and into town, passing an elderly woman in a flowered dress and a straw wide-brimmed hat.
"Buon giorno, Nicoletta!" called the elderly woman, lifting a hand from her wicker basket full of flowers and waving at Nicoletta as she passed by.
"Buon giorno, Signora Dormelli!" called Nicoletta as she rode by the elderly woman's house, and then she continued on her way. Up and down more hills, around more turns and through the market, Nicoletta quickly made her way home. Resting her bike against the side of her home, Nicoletta rushed inside, removing her red beret and setting it on the hat stand that stood by the kitchen door. "Ciao, Gioshue." Nicoletta walked over to the cabinet on the other side of the kitchen and opened them as her younger twelve-year-old brother, Gioshue, sat at the kitchen table.
"Ciao, Nicoletta," he muttered as he stared down at his book. Nicoletta opened the cabinet and retrieved a white porcelain plate.
"Have Mother and Father returned home yet?" she asked as she looked back at her brother. Gioshue shrugged.
"Non lo so," he replied. "Non penso…" Nicoletta closed the cabinets and walked to the table, setting the plate down.
"Non pensi… Of course you do not think. You never think," she told him, sitting down next to him. "Che leggi?"
"Un libro," Gioshue replied in a nonchalant tone.
"Si, so questo é un libro. I know what a book is. I meant che tipo? What type?" Nicoletta asked him.
"Ah… Racconto del mistero," said Gioshue, referring to his mystery book. Nicoletta nodded.
"I hear in town that i tedeschi come and take Jews out of Avezzo, which really is not far," she told her brother. Gioshue sighed.
"Nicoletta, non fai essere popazza, per favore. Please do not be crazy. The Germans will not come here. Mussolini is a good man; he would never let i tedeschi come and take us," said Gioshue in a matter-of-factly tone. Nicoletta looked down and shook her head slightly.
"Non lo so… Signore Mussolini, he… does not seem as… faithful… to Italy's citizens," she told him.
"Are you questioning our leader's ability?" Nicoletta looked up at him and quickly shook her head.
"Oh, no, no, not at all, no… I am questioning his faithfulness to the Italian people," she told him. Gioshue gasped slightly.
"How dare you say such things, Nicoletta? Sei popazza!" he exclaimed, throwing his hands into the air.
"If Father hears of your supporting Fascism, you will be disowned!" Nicoletta snapped quickly at him. Gioshue slowly sat back down, slightly taken aback. "There is an ailment in the Italian government, and I can sense it! There is nothing good when your own ally is taking your citizens - Jewish, disabled, others – to those places and killing them off! You have heard the rumors, Gioshue!"
"Just because we are Jewish does not mean we will be taken, Nicoletta!" Gioshue snapped back. "Mussolini will protect us. I tedeschi non sono venire. We are safe." Nicoletta slowly shook her head.
"No, Gioshue… I do not believe that we are…" she told him an distant tone. Suddenly, their mother, Sara Braschellini, quickly strode into the room, causing Gioshue and Nicoletta to look up at her.
"Ragazzi, we must leave," she told them with a forward tone. Gioshue and Nicoletta gaped at her slightly. "Hurry! I tedeschi, they are coming for us! Go! Pack your bags! Partiamo! Go!" Nicoletta, with one I-told-you-so look towards her brother, quickly leapt up from the table and left the room, Gioshue shortly following.
That evening, Nicoletta, Gioshue, Sara and her husband, Matteo, quietly snuck behind a metal chain link fence and hid behind a bush as the town of Avanetti was being liquidated. Separated into groups, the men and women stared with disgust and fear at the German Nazis that were herding them onto the trains. Peering through the bush, Nicoletta saw three of her close friends from her school.
"Those are my friends… Caterina, Evelina, Giuseppe…" she whispered as she watched a Nazi brutally beat a younger boy who had coughed. Matteo suddenly set a hand on his daughter's shoulder, starling her slightly.
"Vieni, Nicoletta… we must leave now…" he told her. Nicoletta silently nodded, and the Braschellini family fled, catching a ship that was bound for Southampton.