Giovanni Pianori


May 25, 2022

Giovanni Pianori, known as the Brisighellino (Brisighella, August 16, 1823 - Paris, May 14, 1855), was an Italian patriot.


Born in Ritortolo, a small fraction of the town of Brisighella, the son of a municipal employee, he moved to Faenza to work as a shoemaker. In 1848 he enthusiastically participated in the First War of Independence. In 1849 he participated in Rome in the defense of the Roman Republic, defeated by the French troops sent by Louis Napoleon. Returning to Faenza, he was arrested on 23 August and associated with the Ravenna prisons. A couple of weeks earlier Anita Garibaldi had died in Mandriole di Ravenna (the Austrians and the "papalini" were hunting Garibaldi and all those who had followed him after the Roman defeat). On January 28, Giovanni Pianori was released from prison, but in Faenza on May 9 he barely managed to escape arrest for calling a cop "executioner". Thus began his exile in Genoa, Livorno, Corsica (Bastia), where he was joined by his wife, Virginia Padovani, with their children Angela (born in 1847) and Edoardo (born in 1852). Giovanni had a passport in the name of Antonio Liverani. In Bastia (where Giovanni had opened a small shoemaker's shop) Virginia "passed" as if she were her sister. In the spring of 1853, the government of Napoleon III ordered a check of all foreigners (especially Italians) who were on French soil. On Virginia's passport it was written that she was married to Giovanni Pianori. The Brisighella citizen was thus forced to send his wife back to Faenza with the two small children and he himself embarked for France. He stayed for some time in Marseille, then went to Chalon-sur-Saône, earning a living as a shoemaker (a profession in which he excelled). After a few months in Chalon-sur-Saone, Pianori reached Paris.

The attack

In December 1854 he left for London, probably called by Mazzini who was organizing a European insurrectionary movement in agreement with Polish, Hungarian and French patriots; the latter (including Victor Hugo) were "furious" towards Louis Napoleon who had made the coup and had proclaimed himself emperor. After having buried the Roman Republic in 1849, he had also buried the French Republic in 1851-52. Believing that he had to avenge the offense made by Napoleon III against Italy with the occupation of Rome, he returned to Paris. He posted the emperor on the Champs-Élysées, where he used to take his evening horseback ride; at 5 pm on April 28, 1855 he fired two shots at him - unsuccessful - with a double-barreled pistol bought in London. Immediately pinned to the ground, a bodyguard of Napoleon III hit him with a dagger, wounding him. The emperor ordered: "Ne le tuez pas! (" Don't kill him! ").

Trial and death sentence

Taken to the police station, the prefect Petri insistently asked Pianori (who had declared his real identity and his origin, Faenza) for the names of his accomplices. Faced with the silence of the Romagna, the prefect brought him before the firing squad hoping, in vain, to break his resistance. On 7 May 1855 Pianori was hastily tried by the Court of Assize of the Seine, which did not grant him an interpreter even though it was very clear that the accused did not know the language well and was unable to understand the trial and the questions that were addressed to him. . Two more guns were found in the subsequent search of his Paris apartment. Furthermore, the Court made a sensational judicial error; trusting the Vatican Secretariat of State (which had sent them to him), she took for good the very serious criminal records (arsonist, revolutionary, murderer, escaped from papal prisons ...), precedents that concerned a different person than the one she was trying . The incredible mistake - the mistaken identity - had the most