The GoticaToscana is a non-profit, non-political, Italian military history association; our base is in Scarperia, 30 km north from Florence. Our goal is to record the History and the Memory of events during WWII. Our area is crossed by the famous Gothic Line, It is here that the Allied Army lost so many lives, a significant amount of their equipment, vehicles and a great deal of time. From the historic point of view, the Italian Campaign after June 1944 was a secondary front but for the Italian people and the soldiers involved the campaign was a tough and bitter struggle. Even today, there are a considerable number of German, US and British positions and bunkers still to be seen.
The association was born in Scarperia in the 2006 with the aim to setup a reference point relate to the ww2 Italian campaign with and mainly to the Gothic Line. The beginning was, as usual, into a garage and the first event organized by the association was named the “Twin Cities Rally”: an occasion of common enjoyment that lasted throughout the four days-long event from April 22 to April 25. The name came from the two cities, Scarperia and Florence, that are represented by the same insignia: the Florentine red “Fleur de Lys” of the Medici family. The Twin Cities Rally crossed the Apennines mountain range and entered Florence following the route taken by the liberating Armies in 1944.
Numbers tell a story: overall, 102 vehicles, all of WWII vintage (with the exception of a Guzzi motorbike, and the DKW Munga owned by one of the organizers) participated, alongside about 320 collectors and re-enactors. These are, still today, record figures for WWII MV events in Italy. We also had the absolute first – for Italy – of having three M4 tanks in our mid. Not to mention all the other armored vehicles, motorbikes, Kubelwagens and other German and Italian Army vehicles, 2-½ ton trucks, Dodge ¾ and 1-½ tonners, and the ubiquitous ¼-ton trucks of Willys.
As second step, Gotica Toscana organized a second type of event dedicated to the reenactors on the Gothic Line battlefield. The area of the Mt. Altuzzo Battle is close to our village, the event was designed as an open-air museum showing men, equipment, vehicles and restored original German settlement.
The pace was two event per year, one rally for military vheicles and one static for reenactors and equipment. This activity leads to reach an agreement with the local Community: the lease of a public owned building to be transformed in a WW2 Museum. The lease started in February 2011 and the inauguration was in September 2011, all the restoration and exploitation was in charge to our association.
Since September 24 2011 this building is the Documentation and Historical Research Centre and the HQ of Gotica Toscana. The Centre hosts also a WW2 museum mainly dedicated to the Gothic Line. The museum hosts an exhibition on the Battle of Mt. Altuzzo and, until September 2015 , an exhibition on the Liberation of Florence. The Museum offers to the members, visitors and researchers a thematic collection of books. The CDRS library actually counts more than 500 books on WW2 subjects. The library contains books donated by the Milani Family, the Vertova Family and by the “Claude Moore Health Sciences Library” of the University of Virginia Health System – Historical Collection & Services. The members are involved in several activity fields ranging from the archival and battlefield research to the restoration of the original German and Allied position. The educational activity involves persons from primary school to the University.
The association and the Museum are part of an Italian Network of four exhibition and research centers placed along the main axis of advance of the Allied armies during the “North Apennines” and “Po Valley” campaigns of WWII. The North Apennines – Po Valley Park (NAPV) is the result of the joint effort by the Gotica Toscana NPA Documentation and Historical Research Center at Ponzalla, near Florence, the WWII Along the Po River Museum at Felonica, near Mantua, the Liberation Memorial Museum in Bologna, and the Winter Line Museum at Livergnano, in the Apennines region. These four exhibition and research centers are placed along the main axis of advance of the Allied armies during the “North Apennines” and “Po Valley” campaigns of WWII – hence the chosen name.The NAPV also constitutes a network of museums and research facilities dedicated to the promotion of guided historical tourism for an international audience. With the help of expert staff, scholars, researchers, visitors and schools, will find multimedia sources, as well as displays and collections of original objects, to further their knowledge of the war in Italy and the people and soldiers who lived through it.
Località Ponzalla 47
50038 – Scarperia (FI)