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  /  personaggi luoghi storia   /  Toscanini’s doctor

Toscanini’s doctor

Born in Piazze on 25 March 1869. Died in Piazze on 27 September 1935.

Returning after his daily visits to his patients, at one o’clock in the morning near his clinic, Dr Alberto Rinaldi was attacked from behind and repeatedly hit on the head with a club. Rescued by family members, he died at five o’clock in the morning on 27 September 1935. Testimonials recall that he held a medical bottle and syringe in his hands. “You will have heard from the newspapers about the barbaric murder of my beloved Dr Rinaldi. I am in shock. I remain devastated”. The author of the telegram was Arturo Toscanini, the doctor’s patient since 1932 due to serious problems with “musician’s arthritis”. Rinaldi graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Florence in 1894; after practising the medical profession for years in Piazze, around 1920, following particular research into tuberculosis which at the time struck down a large part of the population, he experimented with a new method for treating arthritis and rheumatism. “The Rinaldi cure” involved intramuscular injections of a medicine, prepared by the doctor himself, strokes of iodine dye and rehabilitative gymnastics for the limbs affected by arthritic pathology, to go hand in hand with a strict diet. The treatment lasted about a month. Testimonies recall the arrival of numerous sufferers in an ambulance or a cart, the only means of transport from the surrounding countryside to Piazze, being welcomed by Dr Rinaldi, always wearing a white coat. The results obtained for patients, described as miraculous – as Toscanini himself wrote: “To dear Dr Alberto Rinaldi, in affectionate friendship, his miraculous Arturo Toscanini, 15 September 1932” – and the mysterious drug used in the cure, drew the attention of many sick people and medical practitioners to Piazze and its doctor. Acclaimed by patients, accused of being a sorcerer, magician and healer by others, Rinaldi repeatedly replied officially, specifying the scientific nature of his research, the results obtained, and his ontology as a doctor. Over the years, however, there were numerous awards from parts of the scientific world, and interest from the national and international press. The doctor’s murder put a dramatic end to his medical research and an extraordinary period for the entire community of Piazze, which at the beginning of the 1930s boasted exceptional guests at its inns: in addition to Toscanini, many others including musicians, entrepreneurs, actors, noblewomen, gentlemen and “common people”, all patients of Dr Rinaldi. In the clinic, during searches, both the clinical-therapeutic notes and the products used by the doctor to prepare the cure’s key drug were found and carefully studied.

The questioning of family members, patients and pharmacists, suppliers of health products, as well as investigating the murder, immediately concentrated on acquiring information to reproduce the drug, whose exact composition, to date, has unfortunately still not been discovered.