Mario Andretti Receives Honorary Citizenship

The legendary race car driver is honored by his hometown of Lucca.

This article, written by Paul Reinhard, appears on The Morning Call.

If you tour all or part of La Villa de Montona, the palatial, 22,000-square-foot Bushkill Township residence of Mario and Dee Andretti, you’ll probably find it difficult to imagine that the home’s owner once lived for three years in one large room of an abandoned college dormitory that was shared by 15 families, separated only by blankets.

Or that the Andretti family — father Alvise, mother Rina, twin brother Aldo and older sister Anna Maria, received a slight upgrade and spent four more years in a two-room attic-type section of the same building that had no running water.

Andretti’s hometown of Montona became a part of then-communist Yugoslavia at the end of World War II. His dad lived a comfortable life as an administrator of seven farms. But all of that was suddenly seized by the government, and residents of Montona were left with two choices: succumb to communism or leave their homes.

The Andrettis wound up in Lucca in Italy’s Tuscany region, about an hour from Florence.

“We were basically refugees in our own country,” Andretti said. “We were stripped of everything because we sacrificed to maintain Italian citizenship. But nobody understood us because nobody talked about it. The press didn’t talk about it, and the government was basically ashamed of it in a sense because of the Geneva pact.”  Read more on The Morning Call.

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