(by Matilde Anghinoni) Two Italian judges who sacrificed their lives to protect those of others. “C’era una volta un giudice…anzi no, due!” (“Once upon a time there was a judge… no two!”) is the title of the play that will be performed in Verona’s San Martino on July 19, the anniversary of Paolo Borsellino’s death. 

Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were two Italian judges who fought the Mafia until the last day with legality, courage, and, above all, love for their country. They were both assassinated in 1992, the year that marked the history of the fight against the Mafia and left an indelible impact on the hearts of all Italians. Both were killed in separate bomb assaults 56 days apart, Giovanni Falcone on May 26th and Paolo Borsellino on July 19th.  

The work of Simone Toffanin will be staged in Verona next Wednesday, July 19, and will tell the milestones of the lives of the two men who have made the history of Italy: from youth through the era of anti-mafia pools and the maxi trial to the massacres of Capaci and Via d’Amelio. “Cera una volta un giudice…anzi no, due!!” will show Falcone and Borsellino’s enormous progress in the fight against the mafia and also all the difficulties they had to face, from constant discrediting, abuse, and the solitude of those who reject a corrupt system. 

The story of Falcone and Borsellino is the tale of two intertwined lives.   

They were both born in Palermo’s Kalsa, the city’s Arabic neighbourhood: Giovanni on May 20, 1939, and Paolo eight months later, on January 19, 1940. Same classical high school academics and law degree, but also the same desire for justice. Their passion drove them to create the Anti-Mafia Pool, a group of judges who dealt only with mafia-style crimes and worked collaboratively together.   

Between 1981 and the first months of 1982, a person died every three days at the hands of organized crime; the Mafia war had begun, resulting in 1,200 victims, numbers comparable to a civil war. The pool began to work fast, and the season of repentance began; that is, the criminals began to name other mafiosi to avoid punishment.  On September 29, 1984, 366 arrest warrants were filed, and some months later, Palermo started to create the bunker for the trial, a courtroom that was developed ad hoc for the maxi trial and to accommodate such many defendants.   

The maxi trial began on February 10, 1986, with 475 defendants and ended on December 16, 1987, with 360 convictions and 114 acquittals. Even though the two judges were the perpetrators of the largest attack against the mafia in Italian history, they were often left unaided. When they were preparing for the trial and dealing with death threats daily, they were transferred to an island north of Sardinia. At the end of the 33-day period, the state presented them with the bill to be paid: 415,800 lire each, or 12,600 lire for each day.   

A story of courage that will be told next Wednesday, in memory of the two judges who changed Italy.   

Massacre of Via d’Amelio, when the mafia killed Paolo Borsellino and five escort agents: Agostino Catalano, Emanuela Loi (the first woman to be part of an escort and also the first woman of the State Police to fall during service), Vincenzo Li Muli, Walter Eddie Cosina and Claudio Traina