When Mayor Ivan Ferrari chose Marcia Jeronimo Camillo Alves as the Town Ambassador of Gavignano I was surprised. She is the first Brazilian and I was very curious to meet her, so I went to see her to meet her in person. For me the Brazilians are the people who helped me with my sick husband and I have always found them very professional and with a very big heart.
So on a cloudy day I arrive in Gavignano, the stone village where all the houses and streets are in stone: one of the most intriguing villages in the Sacco Valley.
A classy woman with a sunny demeanor opens up to me, but it was clear she was quickly analyzing everything: "I was a policewoman, I was a police captain in Rio de Janeiro and I was investigating. When the president of Brazil or other ministers came to Rio, I was in the escort and often organized it”.
And her husband Danilo Martinozzi immediately shows me a video from a television service in which we see President Lula and Marcia in his job as head of the protection service.
It is immediately clear to me that I am dealing with a special person and I am so intrigued that I ask questions and fill an entire notebook with notes.
March escorting President Lula
Marcia comes from one of the favelas and her policeman father always wanted her to study to get out of poverty. Then one day in 1982, he came rushing home to say that Brazil had changed the law and now women could join the police too. So Marcia participates in the first competition where 3,000 women were trying to get one of the 182 places available, and she gets to become one of the first female police officers in Brazil.
“When I went to patrol the favelas I had to cover up so as not to be recognized. Then work in the field and study led me to conquer the ranks of chief, sergeant, lieutenant and finally captain".
I ask her if she has ever been afraid because in some areas of the country violence is evidently present and she tells me some episodes. She tells me that she recognizes the fear because after her she feels a strange taste in her mouth, like blood.
His life was happy in Brazil, the house in Capocabana, a son who today works as a photographer of Brazilian divas and celebrities, his retirement after 30 years of work in the police and then the role of model over 60. He really didn't think that in a kiosk she would have met her husband Danilo and her life would have changed so radically.
At this point the classic question about Gavignano feels almost trivial: “when I arrived in Italy I couldn't stay without doing nothing and I began to investigate my past because I knew I had an Italian grandfather. I did 2 years of research. Many of the Italians who arrived in Brazil had their names mangled in the register of arrival and to trace their roots you need to read many registers until you understand the mangled and rediscover the logical thread".
... Marzia's investigations into the Registers
And for an investigator, she really likes this job and so in her case she found her origins in Casola Valsegno in Emilia Romagna: she went to visit the town, was received by the mayor and found many other relatives around the world. You are now part of a group that promotes Casola Valsegno.
“At that time I asked a Brazilian lawyer for help, but today people are turning to me directly. The search for one's roots is a very strong phenomenon in Brazil: some do it just to know their own history, many others to give their children dual citizenship and make them even more citizens of the world".
When he has to do a search for someone he gets to read at least 10,000 names in handwritten registers in handwriting from the past. But this reminds her of her police work and is an intriguing way for her to put her experience as a former detective to work.
And she particularly likes Gavignano and is already actively promoting it. In a school in Brazil, children took pictures of Gavignano and drew drawings which she then brought to the mayor. A police colonel stayed in this village for three months and the list of people who want to come and see Italy and stay a few days in this village is really long.
Basically Marcia was already a Town Ambassador of her country but she didn't know it. And now we look forward to having her even more active because there is a small community of Gavignano in Brazil and one in the United States just waiting for her to find them.
And you can do this for all the municipalities of the Lepini Mountains. Come on Marcia, you are a force of nature!