World War Memorial, Pandino

In 1921 a group of  local citizens from Pandino decided to build a monument to commemorate its fallen soldiers from the 1st World War. The War Memorial was financed by local government and by the work of a Pro-Monument Committee, together with various fundraising activities by all the people of the town dedicating themselves to this initiative. 
   The Committee decided that the ideal place for the War Memorial was the main town square - named after King Victor Emmanuel III – and permission from the local authorities to build here was given immediately. However, plans for its design were more complicated. The first drawings for the memorial were presented by the well-known local artist and talented designer from Pandino, Marius Stroppa, though in the end it was the sculptor from the nearby town of Lodi, Pietro Kufferle, whose design was finally chosen. 
On 9th September, 1928 an official ceremony to unveil the War Memorial was held among local celebrations of agricultural and industrial shows, award ceremonies and electric light displays. The Memorial we see today is the same as the original. Surrounded by a hexagonal wrought-iron fence  bearing the Milanese family Visconti’s coat of arms and known as the “biscione” - an enormous, non-venomous snake - the sides have sculptures of bombs and unexploded remnants of war. In the centre, a bronze statue of an Italian soldier holding a rock stands on a high mound of stones and weathered limestone. At the foot of the mound lies a large double-headed dying eagle. In the centre, a round wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the bay laurel tree stands under the words: SUGELLO DELLA VITTORIA (SEAL VICTORY).  Lastly, the commemorative plaque with the names of the dead and the title, “To Pandino’s Fallen” is placed as if it comes out of the rock.
Kufferele’s design is easily legible. The Italian soldier reminds us of the bloody battles of the First World War  (1915-18), leading to Italy’s triumph over its long-term enemy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, represented by one of its most famous emblems -the double-headed eagle- as the defeated house of Habsburg. The plaque is written simply with the engraved names of the fallen soldiers in alphabetical and chronological order of their death. At its foot, an everlasting light shines day and night. The only changes made to the Memorial have been the addition of new stones to commemorate the fallen from later wars.
Over the years, the Memorial has become  part of our  day-to-day life in Pandino, so much so that people have given a name to the soldier on high: Fredo!      
In 2014, on the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, a new Committee was set up - with the help of public and private sponsors, local government and numerous  societies - to restore the Monument to its former glory. 
In May 2016, the Monument was shown in the popular film, “Call me by your name”, by Luca Guadagnino.
Küfferle Pietro Angelo Zeno
Pietro Angelo Zeno Kufferle was born 1 July, 1871  in Verona and died  20 August, 1942 in Pontedera (Pisa). The son of Austrian army official Joseph Küfferle, Pietro got his degree at the Verona Academy Of Art.  Working in Prague where, in 1891, he received the Gold Medal Award for the International Sculpture Exhibition, from 1891-1892 he took part in the competition to design  the  24 - piece, high relief panel for the front of the Victor Emmanuel School in Verona. In 1894, the architect Camillo Boito asked him to supervise work on the altar at the Cathedral of Saint Anthony in Padua and the restoration of the Palace of Saint Sofia, also known as The Golden House   (Ca’ D’Oro) in Venice. 
In 1898, he attended an important studio in St. Petersburg, where he then worked for the next eight years creating his own school of artistic sculpture using marble. He married Anna De Budaitis-Volsky and their son, Rinaldo, was born in 1902 and later became a famous writer and Italo-Russian translator. 
In 1903, upon Imperial Russian orders, he was commissioned to sculpt busts of all the Russian Emporers, from Peter The Great to Nicholas II who, in 1904, nominated him as Director of the School of Sculpture.  In 1909, he started a working group for a Memorial to the Russian sailors who had been the first to rescue people during the earthquake in Messina, Sicily in 1908, for which he was then awarded The Order of Saint Stanislav of the 3rd degree. The Monument based on the original sculpture was officially unveiled in Messina in June, 2012.
In October, 1917 he escaped to Italy with his family via Scandanavia and they settled in the Tuscan town of Pontedera, where he later made the sculptures of the Evangelists that can still be seen today on the Cathedral.   After the death of his wife, in 1920, he moved to Lodi to help his son  continue his degree studies. Some of his works created previously in Russia, for example the group “Long Live Savoy!”, made in St. Petersburg in 1915, after Italy had entered the war, came to life again later in the form of the “Monument to the Italian Soldiers”, Pontedera in 1923. Although this War Memorial was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, it is said to have been similar to and the inspiration for the War Memorial in Pandino. He married  Vincenza Bartoli, a widow from the Fassorra family in Lodi and adopted her children - Vittorio, Ario and Enzo.
In 1928, the local government in Lodi showed his work in the “Permanent Exhibition”. He moved to Milan in 1929 and then to Pontedera, where he died.  
Translated by: Lisa Mehlman   August, 2018