Il Passatore in Forlimpopoli
Stefano Pelloni, known as “Il Passatore” (the ferryman), was a murderous bandit from Bagnacavallo who lived in Romagna in the mid-19th century. His figure is indissolubly linked to Forlimpopoli, the scene of the bandit’s most infamous feat: the raid on the town’s theatre on the evening of 25 January 1851. During a performance, the outlaw occupied the theatre along with his gang of bandits, forcing the wealthy lords of the town to hand over their jewellery, money and other precious items. One of the victims was Pellegrino Artusi, whose sister Gertrude was sexually assaulted. This tragic episode left its mark on her entire life until she was finally locked away in an asylum, leading the Artusi family to move to Florence. Two months after the raid, Pelloni was stopped by the police near Russi and was killed in a gunfight. For many years following his death, his story was romanticised and he was lauded as a “social brigand” or as Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli called him, the “friendly Passatore”. In recent years this has been dispelled and his name relegated to the company of the cruellest bandits.