Giacomo and Giovanni Battista Tocci were two conjoined twins born in Locana, Piedmont, between the 1875 and the 1877. Of them there is only fragmentary information but the story of their life was of great interest for all the Freak Show enthusiasts of the 1800. The twins mother, Maria Luigia Mezzarosa, was only 19 years old when she gave birth to them.

The procedure was not particularly difficult due to the tiny dimensions of the children. First of all the head of Giovanni Battista came out, then it was the turn of Giacomo. The babies had one umbilical cord and one placenta and were partially united even though not entirely. They had two heads, four arms, two respiratory systems, two stomachs and two chests almost complete (from the sixth rib they joined), yet they would share intestine, penis and anus. As for the legs they were just two but each of then would control only one.

At birth, their father Giovanni Tocci had a mental breakdown and spend a month inside an asylum

The clamour which formed up around the two newborns was huge but their parents did not allow the doctors to perform many tests on them, scared that revealing too much about their physical traits would have limited their fame and potential earnings. The professors of the Medical Academy of Turin had a look at them though, and declared that they would have not lived for long. Later on two doctors from Lion, France, certified instead that the two children had a good health and would predict a long existence.

After these medical consultations, the Tocci spouses decided that they had enough, so those were their last professional evaluations accepted. For the rest of the 80’s the children travelled across Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Poland and Francia, exposed in all their main cities.

Their freak sons soon became for the family a substantial source of income

Some psychologists who checked them, noticed that the personalities of the two boys were different. An English one stated that Giacomo was less smart yet more talkative while Giovanni was more thoughtful, smart and with an artistic penchant. Later on a doctor judged both of them smart, yet with obvious different behavioural features.

Below: photograph of the the whole Tocci family

The two siblings never walked. Not because they were physically unable to, but rather for the long period of stillness they had to endure while exhibiting themselves. Their handicap made it easy for their parents to take advantage of them, and they did not miss an opportunity to turn them into a money machine. If physically they were disabled, from an intellectual point of view they had an advanced perspicacity as they would speak 3 foreign languages (English, French and German) as well as were able to interact with the audience in a brilliant fashion.

Their career as freaks met its peak on a tour in the States, which initially was supposed to last one year but it eventually turned into a 5 years one. They arrived in the 1891 and were paid an average of 1,000 dollars a week, an interesting sum nowadays but that back then was exorbitant. Given the massive success and the immense gainings, the Tocci family toured with several circuses for the following 5 years.

In 1897 circa the Tocci twins and parents were extremely rich

The career of the two boys is documented but there is not much about their private life. It is known that in 1897 they came back to Italy, by then in their 20’s and bought a villa in Venice, retired from the stage.

Below, the insert of a newspaper with the promotion of an event of the Tocci twins, defined as:

“The Greatest Living Wonder in the whole World”

From then on their life became legend. Certainly they left the villa very rarely and certain papers said the the brothers married two different women in 1904. In a report they appeared dead in 1906 while in another one from the 1911 they were still alive. In 1932 they said that in 1912 they were alive and had become fathers, while other sources declared them dead in 1940 at the age of 63/65 years old with no offspring. Despite the uncertainty about the date of their death, it is believed it occurred in the 1940 which classifies them as the 2nd position siamese twins for longevity after Ronnie and Donnie Galyon, born in 1951 and died in 2020.

The Tocci Twins, real stars of their time in the most known Freak-Shows of the end of the 1800, were inspiration for the American author Mark Twain for his novel “Those Extraordinary Twins”, eventually titled “Pudd’nhead Wilson”.

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Matteo Rubboli

I am a publisher specialised in the digital distribution of culture and founder of the portal Vanilla Magazine. I don't wear a tie or branded clothes, I keep my hair short so I don't have to comb it. That's not my fault but just the way I've been drawn as...

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