Primo Visentin has long been regarded as a legendary figure in Italy as a military general who helped lead the resistance to defeat dictator Benito Mussolini during the Second World War.
But it wasn’t until the last few years that his nephew, Frank Quaggiotto, and other family members in Windsor were even aware of Visentin’s prestigious place in Italian history. He’s honoured on certain holidays and his story is featured in museums.
In yet another humbling reminder, an Italian mayor has travelled to Windsor, where on Sunday at the Caboto Club he presented the family with another honour in recognition of Visentin’s place in the nation’s history.
“It’s a little bit of shock for all of us, because until recently we didn’t know anything about this,” Quaggiotto said. “My dad (Umberto) just started talking to me about it before he passed away (in 2011).
Windsor area relatives of Second World War Italian hero Primo Visentin, pictured in this handout photo, received recognition on Sunday from officials from Riese Pio X, Italy.
“(Visentin) has had many books written about him and is included in historical movies. There are festivals for him. We were asked to go over there a couple years ago and were a little taken aback because we never knew how important this is to everyone.”
Visentin was a famed scholar and professor at the University of Padua when he was called upon to lead a group of dissidents in the area of Treviso against the Mussolini regime and German army.
Matteo Guidolin, mayor of Riese Pio X, Italy, speaks Sunday at the Caboto Club during a ceremony honouring the Windsor-based relatives of Italian war hero Primo Visentin.
He was successful, lauded for his military efforts and was poised to be appointed a political leader in the new Italy when he was killed on April 29, 1945 at the age of 31 by some of his own money-hungry troops who believed he was wealthy.
His surviving family members, including Quaggiotto’s father, Visentin’s brother, fled the country to Canada and settled in Windsor.
Historians in Italy in recent years, thanks to social media, were able to track down the family in Windsor and called upon them to be honoured in continued recognition of Visentin’s place in history.
Mayor Matteo Guidolin of Riese Pio X (a municipality in northeast Italy) made the trip to Windsor to again honour the family.
“When you go there they have his bust in the place where he was murdered,” Quaggiotto said. “He is a war hero to everyone.
“I feel very honoured knowing my uncle did what he did. I just wish someone would have told us all earlier so we could have appreciated it more.”
Windsor area relatives of Primo Visentin received recognition from officials of Riese Pio X, Italy, on Sunday at the Caboto Club. Pictured from left, front row, are local family members Alice Bonin, Claudia Kalaydjian, Doris Piccinin, Maria Carlini, Antonio Piccinin and Frank Quaggiotto. Back row, from left, Riese Pio X Deputy Mayor Mario Zonta, Mayor Matteo Guidolin, and locals Michele Quaggiotto and Loretta Millinoff.