Buona fortuna, Nonna Maria!

May 10, 2009



It’s only May, but I’ve already chosen my favorite political candidate of this year. It’s Maria Donati, who is running for a seat on the municipal council in Saludecio, a little town in the Italian province of Rimini. Signora Donati is 102 years old. According to a story in the newspaper “Il Resto del Carlino,” civic leaders in the town at first asked the signora if she was insane when she offered herself as a candidate, but then – by their own account – they pondered the ancient motto “Chi si ferma e perduto” – “Whoever stops is lost” – and changed their minds.

Sgna. Donati – popularly known as “Nonna Maria” – grew up in a large family in the Republic of San Marino. In fact, the elected officials in Saludecio now include many of her relatives. During World War II, the Nazis deported her husband, Poverelli Aurellio, to Germany. Although she was pregnant, and although the region was under air attack, she rode a bicycle to the headquarters of the Wehrmacht to badger authorities there about her spouse’s status. They were reunited after about a year.



The implication of the story in “Il Resto del Carlino” is that Nonna Maria never sits still as it is. She lives with her nephew and keeps busy with cooking and other chores around the house, but otherwise is likely to be off visiting neighbors – and now she will be involved in evening meetings with the other candidates.

Matteo de Angelis, who wrote the story, commented at the end that Nonna Maria’s candidacy shows that “nonostante l’età, tutto è possibile” – in spite of age, all things are possible. Stories like this  always remind me of George Abbott, who died in 1995 at the age of 107. At the time, he was in the midst of revising the second act of ”The Pajama Game,” which he had written in 1954.

“Even at my age,” Nonna Maria said, “it is possible to propose many ideas.” And she might have said, especially at her age.


One Response to “Buona fortuna, Nonna Maria!”

  1. Carrie Says:

    I would love to speak to this lady about her family history and all things she can remember throughout her life.

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