ELIO ASSIRELLI

Elio Assirelli, president of the 100km del Passatore from 1988 to 2009

Elio Assirelli was born in Faenza on March 7, 1923, the first of five children of Gaetano and Rosa, the others were Luciano, Adriano, Vittorio and Mario(who passed away only some years ago).

Originally from Tredozio, his parents moved to our city for work. His father worked for the Timo factory and his mother for the Ghetti family.

After having obtained a professional qualification and having studied accounting privately for two years, Assirelli began working as a mechanic in a Fiat workshop. During the 1930s he studied at the school of the Salesian Brothers and was a member of the Azione Catolica (Catholic Action) movement.

In 1942 he was called up for military service and was sent to the Air Force’s school for radiotelegraphy, but after Italy’s withdrawal from the Axis with Germany on September 8, 1943 he fought as a volunteer against the German forces that wanted to occupy Rome.

He came home to Faenza on indefinite leave during which he passed an admission exam to the Conservatory at Ravenna and also began to work at the Revenue office at Modigliana where he went to work every day by bicycle or by Vespa until his retirement.

At the end of 1943 he did not respond to the appeal to arms of the Socialist Republi of Salò, but he clandestinely joined the partisan group led by Monsignor Salvatore Baldassari (whose refuge was near the Dalle Fabbriche family at Errano) where he took part in the liberation movement. Thewre he met the politician Benigno Zaccagnin and they became lifelong friends. It was Zaccagnini who introduced him to Aldo Moro, his other great political guide.

In 1944 he joined the managing council of the Youth Front as the representative of the young catholics of Faenza and joined the Christian Democrat Party. In 1945 he went back to his work where he was elected secretary of the CGIL Union, again as the representative of the young Catholics of Faenza. However, in 1946 during the general strike that followed the attempted assassination on the communist politician Palmiro Togliatti he broke away from the mother body and founded the Libera (free) CGIL which would become the CISL Union.

In 1947 he married Virginia Casalini, his dear Ginetta. They had two daughters, Luisa and Maria Teresa.

He was voted as a member of the local council for the Christian Democrats on May 27, 1951 and on March 11, 1952 he was nominated as the Councilor Responsible Social Welfare under the Mayor Pietro Baldi.

In the next legislature he was elected Mayor of Faenza, a role he carried out for four consecutive terms from August 10 1956 until March 6, 1972. During this period the administrations led by him were committed to the economic development of the city and they were distinguished by a feat that was exceptional, to say the least, for the period, he always administered with a balanced budget. A result of which he was proud.

For this reason, the Bologna newspaper “Il Resto del Carlino” dedicated a special page to Faenza, defining the city as the “odd man out of the Romagna Region”. In fact, it was the only local council with a population over 30,000 in the Region with a balanced budget. For this reason and unknown to him, the national government representative at Ravenna organized that he be awarded an order of merit by Italy’s President.

In the field of Agriculture the Council approved his proposal that 140 hectares of land be made available to the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Bologna for research on viticulture and enology, as well as the preservation of all the types of vine existing in the Romagna Region, including the “minor” species that otherwise would have been lost. We must also remember that the bypass road and Parco Bucci, Faenza’s first green zone, date back to this period.

On May 7 1972 he was elected to the Senate for the Electoral College of Forli-Faenza. He was reelected in 1976 and kept his seat until the end of the legislature on June 17, 1979. During his parliamentary service work within the Senate Finance/Treasury Commission, of which he was secretary, was decisive in the decision to the merge the national mint with the national printing office.

In six months he was also able to resolve an age old problem of the mini-cheques. This would say the national printing office 69 billion lire which were used to build the new headquarters for the Mint in Rome. He also presented a law for the recognition of the brand of “ceramics from Faenza” which would taken on and then successfully finalized by his successor, Senator Leonardo Melandri from Forli.

He then withdrew from active politics with the Christian Democrats when he declined a third nomination for the Senate, but shared their political path when the early 1990s saw the birth of the Popular Party and then of the Margherita which would go on to become the current Democrat Party.

All the same, Assirelli continued to be very active within the community. After having been a member since 1979 he became President of the housing cooperative Coabi and kept this role until his death. During his term he helped over 500 families to build homes.

In 1981 he was voted President of the Authority for the protection of the wines of the Romagna Regiom, which would become Wine Consortium of Romagna. He held the position until April 2005 when he became Honourary President of the organization. In those years he held other positions with bodies interested in the development and promotion of wines in the Romagna Region.

Assirelli was also active in other fields amongst which was the Riunione Cattolica Evangelista Torricelli of which he was a member from its foundation and of which he was President from 1991 to 2006 when he became its Honourary President.

He was also involved with the Committee of the 100km del Passatore that was formed in 1988, fifteen years after the birth of what became the most famous of the over 800 ultra marathons held around the world. He transformed it into the Associazione Polisportiva Dilettantistica 100km del Passatore, taking on the role of President until his death.

His daily life and leisure time were marked by his three passions. Firstly for sport, as a young man he practiced Greco-roman wrestling and football. Secondly for reading, which he did every day, from all the daily newspapers to books. And finally his passion for nature, from the sea to the mountains he always moved from place to place in a camper and was always in the company of family and friends.

His many commitments were always illuminated in the Faith in the Gospels and belief in the National Constitution that with their great words allowed him to give value and positive contributions to the activities and relationships when he guided our City.

His political Testimony was simple and sobre, distinguished by courage in his beliefs. “Expressing them publicly,” he affirmed, “helps you, almost obliges you, to be coherent towards that community and therefore to be faithful to the mandate you receive.”

Claudio Casadio, Mayor of Faenza,February 4, 2010, from the Official Commemoration.