Giovanni Battista and Giacomo Tocci: Those Extraordinary Twins

by Massimiliano Lorenzon

[Italian version below]

TALLAHASSEE – Born in Basilicata in 1877, Giovanni Battista and Giacomo Tocci had one head, one heart and two lungs each, but only two legs, only one anus and penis. Later it was noted that they had an intelligence and a character of their own, emotions and independent sensations. Giovanni could control one leg and Giacomo could control  the other: as a result it was impossible to walk. They were both intelligent, but often quarreled with each other, resolving the diatribes with fists.

THE SUCCESS. The father of the boys, a worker, and his mother, Antonia Mezzano, just 19 years old, saw the birth of the two as an opportunity that could be financially beneficial. Already after a month, the children were taken to Turin for a public performance – and well paid. Then it was the time for a real tour in all the major cities of Europe.

In the Nineties, the boys travelled to the United States for highly-paid performances. In a show, the writer Mark Twain could watch them live and the occasion ended up being an inspiration for his story Those Extraordinary Twins.

THE RETIREMENT. By now the brothers had grown tired of the stage and in 1897 they decided to retire to a more private life. They bought a villa in Venice and settled there, having decided to avoid any contact with the outside world. Seven years later they married two separate women, triggering the rumors of the people (since the twins had the same penis, did the women make love with both or only one of them?). Later, information about the brothers became few and conflicting: one source noted their death in 1906, another claims that in 1912 they were alive and surrounded by their offspring. Finally there were those who claimed that they died in 1940 without children.
twins


Nati in Basilicata nel 1877, Giovanni Battista e Giacomo Tocci avevano una testa, un cuore e due polmoni ciascuno, ma due sole gambe, un solo ano e un solo pene. In seguito si notò che avevano un’intelligenza e un carattere proprio, emozioni e sensazioni indipendenti. Potevano comandare la gamba corrispondente, ma non l’altra: di conseguenza era impossibile camminare. Erano entrambi intelligenti, ma sovente litigavano tra loro, risolvendo le diatribe a pugni.

IL SUCCESSO. Il padre dei ragazzi, di professione operaio, e la madre, Antonia Mezzano, appena 19enne, videro nella nascita dei due l’occasione di mettere su una fortuna. Già dopo un mese, i piccoli furono portati a Torino per un’esibizione pubblica – e ben remunerata. Poi fu la volta di un vero e proprio tour in tutte le maggiori città d’Europa.
Negli anni Novanta i ragazzi andarono negli Stati Uniti per esibizioni profumatamente pagate. In uno spettacolo, lo scrittore Mark Twain li poté osservare dal vivo e dall’occasione prese spunto per il racconto I gemelli straordinari.

IL RITIRO DALLE SCENE. Ormai però i fratelli erano stanchi del palcoscenico; nel 1897 decisero di ritirarsi a vita privata. Comprarono una villa a Venezia e vi si stabilirono, decidendo di evitare ogni contatto col mondo esterno. Sette anni dopo sposarono due donne separate, innescando le dicerie della gente (i gemelli avevano il pene in comune: le donne facevano l’amore con entrambi o solo con uno dei due?). In seguito, le informazioni sui fratelli divennero poche e contrastanti: una fonte ne data la morte al 1906, un’altra sostiene che nel 1912 fossero vivi e attorniati da prole. Infine ci fu chi affermò che fossero morti nel 1940 senza figli.

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