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A year in hiding in wartime Florence

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A year in hiding in wartime Florence

In 1943, Italy officially changed sides in World War Two, making peace with the Allies against Nazi Germany. It was the beginning of a new chapter in the life of one little Jewish boy in Florence, Marcello Buiatti, whose family suddenly had to go into hiding.

Via Faenza - a pedestrian street, five minutes' walk from Florence's main train station. Standing outside number 43, Marcello Buiatti takes in the surroundings. It has hardly changed in 70 years.

A professor of genetics at Florence University, Buiatti was then a five-year-old boy. He remembers paratroopers floating down into the city in September 1943, when Italy signed an armistice with the Allies.

"Everybody was happy because we thought it was Allied troops coming down and saving us from the Germans, but it was not," he says.

He was with his mother - a Jew born in Poland and educated in Prague - at his father's office in the centre of town near the River Arno. Fortunately his father, a former military man, had used his connections to plan for this eventuality.