D.he next election will be missed by “Nonna Lisa”: She died on Saturday at the age of 109 in her house in Città di Castello near Perugia. It will be the first vote in Italy in 75 years without the vote of “Grandma Lisa”. On June 2, 1946, Luisa Zappitelli, as the icon of democracy and the women’s movement in Italy was called, made the pilgrimage with a group of friends many kilometers to the nearest polling station to take part in the referendum on the abolition of the monarchy. “I studied to be able to defend myself against my bosses, and now I’m going to vote, because otherwise you won’t listen to our voices,” she said on record at the time.
The referendum to abolish the monarchy was the first national election in Italy in which women were allowed to participate. And they did it in large numbers: around 13 million votes from women compared to twelve million votes from men. The turnout was 89 percent. 54.3 percent voted for the establishment of the republic, 45.7 percent for the preservation of the monarchy.
Luisa Zappitelli, of course, voted for the republic at the time, and in the following decades she did not miss a single election – neither at the municipal, regional, nor national level. She grew up as the second of six children in modest circumstances. Her husband died early and until the end she lived with her daughter Anna in Città di Castello. Three years ago, President Sergio Mattarella honored her on the occasion of Women’s Day on March 8th as an “example for everyone” and especially for young women.
She survived two world wars and the Spanish flu
“Nonna Lisa” went to the local elections for the last time in September 2020, accompanied and supported by their children Anna and Dario. She was not afraid of a possible infection with the corona virus. “I survived two world wars and the Spanish flu, this virus doesn’t scare me,” she said. In her hometown she was the godmother of the local Vespa club and was honored nationwide as the oldest active breeder of canaries.
The last time she appeared in public was on June 2, on the occasion of the “Festa della Repubblica”: at the window of her apartment, the national flag properly next to her. The clarinetist Fabio Battistelli serenaded her, including, of course, the hymn by the “Brothers of Italy”, to whom the sisters did not belong from the beginning. Luisa Zappitelli named her “secret recipe” against all diseases and for a long life: pray to the Lord Jesus Christ and obey the rules.