Grazia Ciccio!

by Adriano Sofri

I would like to tell you about a prison guard nicknamed Ciccio (Fatso) in Bergamo Prison, Italy.

Prison is bedlam, a place filled with a terrifying din that stops you from living. Silence simply doesn?t exist in prison. It can?t exist, with the uninterrupted noise, prisoners yelling, guards shouting, sentries barking orders outside, the constant clanging of iron doors. Because everything is made of iron in prison: every cell door has a double armored plate, every time the door is opened or closed, the spy hole is opened or closed, the sound is deafening, you can?t imagine.

In a place like this, the guards pass by every hour of the night. They open the spy-holes, and look in to the cell. They look in and switch on the light, if it has been switched off according to regulations. But if someone has succeeded in keeping it on, maybe because they like to read at night, they switch it off; that is, they always do the opposite. They slam the iron door shut; you can hear their footsteps as soon as they enter the wing - twenty clanging doors away. All this is perfectly normal. It is part of dull prison routine.

Well, Sergeant Ciccio was very much liked, simply because he closed the cell doors gently. You have no idea how important it is to have a person close your cell door gently at night....