If you are a movie lover, surely you’ve seen the film “The night of San Lorenzo” by the directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. Both born in San Miniato fall in love with the world of cinema from a young age and, after moved to Rome, begin to work directing some documentaries and devote themselves completely to directing independent films.
One of these, remembered in the history of cinema and which wins the Special Grand Prix of the Jury and the Ecumenical Jury prize, is “The night of San Lorenzo”, a dramatic film that tells one of the bloodiest episodes in the history of San Miniato: the massacre of the Cathedral.
The film is told through the eyes of little Cecilia and tells the escape of a group of citizens, led by the farmer Galvano: the story has as its background the Second World War and the war of resistance.
A group of German soldiers order the citizens of San Martino (fictitious name to indicate the city of San Miniato) to gather in the cathedral, but the farmer Galvano, fearing a terrible trap, refuses to contravene the order of the army and with a group of citizens leaves the country overnight. The farmer’s fears are indeed founded and, as we know, the Cathedral was hit by a grenade that killed 55 people including men, women and children.
The film then tells of historical events that really happened and the escape of this group of citizens in search of American allies. As Paolo Taviani underlined “The moral of the story is trivially this: when things go wrong, it’s time to take hold of the meaning of one’s existence; when everything is lost, everything can still be saved”
This film was shot in San Miniato and in the surrounding countryside while the church filmed for the scenes of the massacre is not the city’s Cathedral, but the collegiate church of Sant’Andrea in Empoli; most of the actors we see instead were all improvised or newcomers.
The massacre of the Cathedral of San Miniato, which actually happened on July 22, 1944, was initially attributed to the German army as they had the citizens gathered in the church: they were therefore indicated as the direct perpetrators of the massacre. When the Wardrobe of Shame was opened (wardrobe found in Rome containing investigation files and registers full of war crimes committed on Italian territory during the Nazi-Fascist occupation) it came to light that the grenade that struck the cathedral was not German, but belonged to the 337th artillery battalion of the US Army, directed against a German weapon hiding place.
To date, a plaque with the names of the victims is inside the church’s right transept and a commemorative plaque have been placed in memory of this bloody event.
Unfortunately Vittorio Taviani died in Rome on April 15, 2018 but in his memory we strongly recommend watching this movie to get an idea of the sophisticated work of two of the most famous Italian directors.