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Maria De Paoli Toffol

Foto donna


1903-1978
The first Italian-speaking woman to run a refuge in South Tyrol.

Artist
Laura Levada

Place
Petrarcapark, Bolzano

Bio



Maria De Paoli was born in Gobbera, Trentino, on November 20, 1903, to Giovanni De Paoli, foreman by profession, a violent and despotic man, and Domenica Paulet. In 1910 the family emigrated to Switzerland, to Lucerne, where the children attended German compulsory schools. Their father did not allow them to continue their studies. After finishing school, Maria worked in a factory until 1918, then moved to San Martino di Castrozza and, at age 16, she married hotelier Giovanni Toffol. The couple had two children, Elda and Aldo, but their marriage did not last long, as Giovanni was an unrepentant womanizer. Maria, with great courage, decided to leave him despite the fact that at the time abandoning the conjugal roof was a criminal offence and makes herself economically independent. In 1936 she began to manage the Locatelli refuge, owned by the Cai (Italian Alpine Club), under the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. This was a real exception in an all-male world, and the work was hard and tiring, but along with the difficulties came the beautiful environment, the climbers, and the mountain enthusiasts, who found in Maria a welcoming, cultured and multilingual woman. Among the regular guests of the refuge who became her friends, writer Dino Buzzati and climber Tita Piaz can be found. She also offered work and hospitality to girls in trouble, and the Locatelli became a safe place for anti-fascists. During the war Maria lived for a time in San Martino di Castrozza and acted as an interpreter for the Nazis, trying to obtain information about the locations of raids and roundups, while her son Aldo was a partisan, and her daughter Elda secretly carried weapons. She later met and fell in love with Eng. Pollini, with whom she lived together for a long time, and run a refuge on the Plose for a few years. Eng. Pollini, unfortunately, died: Maria was left alone, without any rights despite the long years they spent together, and fell into a deep depression. She was helped by her children and Giovanni, with whom she had returned to live in Bolzano. She died at age 75 of heart disease, lucid to the end.




Maria De Paoli was born in Gobbera, Trentino, on November 20, 1903, to Giovanni De Paoli, of Corsican descent, a foreman, and Domenica Paulet, of English descent. His parents were very religious and strict, particularly her father was a violent and despotic man. In 1910 the family emigrated to Switzerland, to Lucerne, and there the children attended German compulsory schools. Their father did not allow them to continue their studies, because "no one was to become better than he was." After finishing school, Maria worked in a factory until 1918, when she moved to San Martino di Castrozza, where, at age 16, she met and married hotelier Giovanni Toffol. The couple had two children, Elda and Aldo, but their marriage did not last long, as Giovanni was an unrepentant womanizer and had two other children outside of the marriage. Maria, with great courage, decided to leave him despite the fact that at the time abandoning the conjugal roof was a criminal offence and makes herself economically independent. In 1936 she began to manage the Locatelli refuge, owned by the Cai (Italian Alpine Club), under the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. This was a real exception in an all-male world, and the work was hard and tiring, everything has to be carried up to the mountain by foot or with mules from Lake Misurina. But along with the hardships came the adventure, the beautiful surroundings, the climbers, and the mountain enthusiasts, who find in Maria a welcoming and cultured woman. She spoke four languages perfectly: Italian, German, English and French, and was an avid reader and scholar of texts ranging from philosophy to poetry. Guests at the refuge included Dino Buzzati, with whom she became friends, along with Tita Piaz, one of the most talented climbers of the time. Maria was a person of great ethical depth: she offered work and hospitality to girls in trouble, and the Locatelli became a safe place for anti-fascists. During the war, Maria lived for some time in San Martino di Castrozza acting as an interpreter for the Nazis, trying to get information about the locations of raids and roundups, while her son Aldo was a partisan, and her daughter Elda secretly carried weapons. She later met and fell in love with Eng. Pollini, with whom she lived together for many years. After the period spent at Locatelli, which she remembered as the best of her life, she ran a lodge on the Plose for three years. Eng. Pollini, unfortunately, died of cancer, and Maria was left alone, without any rights despite the long years spent together, and fell into a deep depression. She was helped by her children and Giovanni, with whom she had returned to live in Bolzano. Maria died at age 75 of heart disease, lucid to the end.

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Laura Levada
Io avrei voluto cantare ma alle scuole elementari l’insegnante mi escluse dal coro scolastico
perché, a dir suo, stonatissima e mi mise lì, in fondo alla classe a disegnare. Andò che poi mi
diplomai all’ Istituto d’arte di Trento.
Recentemente ho trovato il piacere della pittura nella formula del ritratto.
I volti mi appassionano, mi affascina ritrarli, m’innamoro di loro ogni volta che li dipingo, è un tuffo
nell’anima di chi ho di fronte. Osservare le foto di Maria De Paoli Toffol e cercare di rappresentarla
mi ha permesso, per qualche giorno, di vivere con empatia la sua storia.
Per contattarla: emailfb

     

     

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