"... I myself have no race; my father is of Albanian origin, the family escaped from Epirus during the 1821 war, but quickly became Italian. However my culture is Italian, fundamentally this is my world; ... Being Albanian by origin was not put into play, because also Crispi he was Albanian, educated in an Albanian college ".
This is what the Albanian wrote Antonio Gramsci in his letters from prison. It is universally known that Gramsci was born in Ales in Sardinia, the 22 in January in the 1891.
His father Francesco had moved to Sardinia from the 1881, to work in the Ghilarza Registry Office, where he married Giuseppina Marcias. Later that office moved to Ales, and with it the Gramsci family. And it is precisely in Ales, as we have said, that Antonio was born. It cannot be ignored that already in the '700 archive documents attest (despite an uncertainty in the memory of Gramsci) that a distant ancestor, Gennaro Gramsci, lived in Plataci, in Calabria, in the district of Castrovillari, and that the family continued to reside in that area, until the transfer to Sardinia.
But there is also no doubt that the origin of Antonio Gramsci was Albanian, of a town called Gramsh. The city, once the capital of an autonomous principality, has been identified by historians as the place of origin of the family of Antonio Gramsci, who from there would have emigrated to Calabria in the '500, following the Turkish invasion and to escape from it, other sources indicate that the father of Gennaro Gramsci, therefore the great-great-grandfather of Antonio Gramsci had come from Gramsh after the motions of the 1821 and Italianized his last name in Gramsci, as the same Antonio affirmed.
I wanted to retrace those footsteps, backwards. It was a journey on the trail of Antonio Gramsci's Albanian origins: a cordial and passionate encounter with the President of the Republic of Albania, Ilir Rexep Metaj, an appointment on Albania's entry into Europe with the Italian Ambassador, and then the arrival in the city of Gramsh with the mayor philosopher, the mayor of Ghilarza and the representatives of Ales, the municipality that gave birth to Antonio Gramsci. Not a journey of nostalgia but many ideas for a work on the future that will involve teachers, artists and students to strengthen the knowledge of Gramsci and the Italo Albanian friendship.
Luigi Berlinguer is an Italian politician and academic. Graduated in law, he was a university lecturer at the University of Siena for years. He has been Minister of Public Education since May 1996 in April 2000. This post was originally published on the Luigi Berlinguer website.