Several months later, in April of 1944, Pino wakes up and hears loud voices outside. He leaves his room to find Tito pointing a gun at Father Re and demanding money and resources. Father Re agrees to give Tito what he asks for, but not before he chastises Tito for his conduct. While Brother Bormio fetches the resources for Father Re, Tito turns his gaze to Pino, whom he recognizes from the party at the inn. Tito turns his gun to Pino and makes him step forward. Tito tries to make Pino show him respect, but Pino refuses. Tito responds by hitting Pino in the testicles with his gun, which drops Pino to the ground. Father Re tries to break up the violence, but Tito turns his gun back on him. In response, Pino kicks Tito in the knee, causing him to fire and drop the rifle.
Tito and his men have no shame. Not only did they rob innocent people in Madesimo, now they are robbing a priest who houses young men and who they know helps Jewish people escape the country. They are selfish and their selfishness angers Pino, who refuses to bow down to Tito, even if it means he is physically harmed. Here, Pino puts his life in danger to protect Father Re, whom Tito has no respect for.
Pino picks up Tito’s rifle and points it at him. Tito orders his men to kill Pino and Father Re, but they refuse. Still, Father Re promises to give them the supplies they asked for. Tito begrudgingly leaves, but tells Pino, “This isn’t over.” After Tito and his men depart, Pino asks Father Re if he should have killed him. Father Re tells Pino that he is glad he didn’t. Then, Father Re asks Pino to stand guard for the rest of the day. Hours later, Pino sees a signal in morse code coming from Campodolcino. He doesn’t know what it means, but he copies it down. He then takes the message to Father Re and Brother Bormio. Brother Bormio translates it and tells the others that Nazis are on their way.
Evidently, Tito is even more despicable than the men who follow him, as he genuinely wants them to shoot Father Re. In sharp opposition to Tito, Father Re shows compassion on Tito and his men by giving them the rations anyway. He is genuine in his desire to help others and wants to avoid bloodshed at all costs. However, Tito and his men are nothing compared to the Nazi regime that is on its way to Casa Alpina.
Father Re is currently sheltering Jewish refugees. He knows if the Nazis find them, they will kill everyone at the camp. Pino tells Father Re that he has an idea of how to hide them. An hour later, Colonel Rauff arrives at Casa Alpina with a group of Nazi soldiers. Rauff questions Father Re about his involvement in smuggling Jewish people out of the country. Father Re pretends not to know what Rauff is talking about and tells him that he is welcome to search the premises. Rauff does so but does not find anything.
This scene is one of the most suspenseful in the novel because of the repercussions that could come of it. The historical Colonel Rauff was known for his barbaric behavior, such that he wouldn’t blink twice before executing everyone at the camp if he knew Father Re was lying. For this reason, it is crucial that Pino’s plan—so far hidden from readers—works.
Along with Pino and Father Re, Rauff goes back outside and finds Mimo chasing after an ox. Mimo tells Pino, Father Re, and Rauff that he’s having trouble rounding up the rest of the oxen. Much to the chagrin of Pino and Father Re, Rauff offers to help. Rauff grew up on a farm and finds the idea fun. Along with Pino and Mimo, Rauff walks to the oxen and helps wrangle them. The entire time, Pino believes his plan has been ruined, although the nature of the plan has yet to be revealed. Ultimately, though, the wrangling of the oxen is uneventful and soon after Rauff and his fellow Nazis leave.
Evidently, Mimo and the ox have something to do with Pino’s plan, although it is not yet clear what that is. Also, it is apparent that Pino did not expect Rauff to help them with the oxen and that him doing so could ruin the plan. Though it’s not clear to the reader what’s going on here, these details build further suspense.
Afterwards, the members of Casa Alpina let out a cheer. It turns out they had hidden the Jewish refugees in the trees and covered their tracks with the oxen. However, they weren’t expecting Rauff to want to help. Rauff walked right underneath where the refugees were hiding, but luckily, he never spotted them. Pino is relieved that his plan worked. Later the same day, Alberto comes to Casa Alpina and tells Pino that he has an urgent message from Michele saying that Pino must return to Milan.
Pino’s plan is rather ingenious. Because there is so much snow at Casa Alpina, there is no obvious way the Jewish people could escape or hide without leaving tracks. However, Pino finds a way to make it happen that even Father Re hadn’t thought of. It is a substantial moment for his character that demonstrates his cleverness, a trait that’s grown since he arrived at Casa Alpina.