The novel’s protagonist, Pino Lella starts out as a carefree Italian youth whose main concern is finding love. One day, while walking around Milan, he meets a woman named Anna and asks her out on… read analysis of Pino Lella
General Leyers is a high-ranking member of Organization Todt, the civil and military engineering branch of Nazi Germany. He is in direct contact with Hitler, as well as many other high-ranking members of the SS… read analysis of General Leyers
Anna Marta is the love of Pino Lella’s life. Pino first meets Anna by happenstance while roaming the streets of Milan. Pino asks Anna out on a date, and she accepts but fails to… read analysis of Anna Marta
Mimo Lella is Pino’s outgoing and competitive younger brother. Shortly after the Allies begin bombing Milan, Mimo is sent to live with Father Re at Casa Alpina. After the Lellas’ home is destroyed, Pino is… read analysis of Mimo Lella
Carletto Beltramini is Pino’s best friend. Over the course of the war, he watches his mother and father die. During the latter’s death, Carletto spots a swastika armband sticking out of Pino’s pocket and… read analysis of Carletto Beltramini
Father Re is a priest who resides at Casa Alpina. Along with the other prominent religious figures such as Cardinal Schuster, Father Re organizes missions to help Jewish people escape to Switzerland. When Pino… read analysis of Father Re
Benito Mussolini was the real-life dictator of Italy during World War II. Several times throughout the novel, Leyers and Pino visit Mussolini’s villa, and Leyers uses Pino to translate. Over the course of their several… read analysis of Benito Mussolini
Cardinal Schuster is the highest-ranking religious figure in Milan. He is a kind, intelligent man who seeks peace and an end to bloodshed. He regularly communicates with Father Re and plays a role in helping… read analysis of Cardinal Schuster
Tullio Galimberti is a family friend of the Lellas and is beloved by Pino. He is also a member of the Italian resistance and gets caught, sent to prison, and tortured. After a rebel… read analysis of Tullio Galimberti
Mrs. Napolitano is a Jewish woman Pino escorts to Switzerland. She is pregnant while making the trek to Switzerland and has a difficult time. Getting her to the Val di Lei is the biggest challenge… read analysis of Mrs. Napolitano
Dolly Stottlemeyer is General Leyers’s mistress, as well as Anna’s employer. She is kind to Anna and Pino and encourages their budding relationship. Toward the end of the novel, she is captured by partisans and executed because of her connection to Leyers.
Greta is Pino’s aunt, who owns a leather-making shop. Greta and her husband Albert are members of the Italian resistance who have connections all over Milan. Pino reports back to them with information about Leyers.
Albert is Pino’s uncle, who owns a leather-making shop. Albert and his wife Greta are members of the Italian resistance who have connections all over Milan. Pino reports back to them with information about Leyers.
Alberto Ascari is a young man who lives in Madesimo and wants to be the world’s greatest racecar driver. While Pino is staying at Casa Alpina, Alberto teaches him to drive and, in return, Pino teaches Alberto to ski.
Michele Lella is Pino’s father. He cares for his son and does everything he can to keep him out of harm’s way.
Porzia Lella is Pino’s mother. She loves Pino deeply and forces him to enlist in the Nazi army.
Water Rauff is a high-ranking Nazi official who holds a lot of power in Milan. Unlike Leyers, Rauff is openly bloodthirsty and never expresses a conscience for his horrific actions. Leyers regularly argues with Rauff about the savagery of his policies.
Mr. Beltramini is Carletto’s father and a close family friend of the Lellas. He dies suddenly after being in close proximity to a rebel bomb that is thrown into a Nazi vehicle.
Brother Bormio lives with Father Re at Casa Alpina. His primary duty is to act as a chef for the boys staying there.
Mr. Bergstrom is the man Pino meets near the Val di Lei. He helps the Jewish people Pino escorts on the last leg of their journey.
Nicco Conte is a young boy who lives in Madesimo. He dies suddenly and violently after picking up a grenade left by Tito and his men.
Luigi is a Jewish man Pino escorts to Switzerland. He has difficulty completing the hike to Switzerland, but Pino pushes him through it. Before parting ways, Luigi thanks Pino by giving him an expensive cigar.
Maria is a Jewish woman Pino escorts to Switzerland. She is married to Ricardo.
Ricardo is a Jewish man Pino escorts to Switzerland. He is a teacher, and he is married to Maria.
Giovanni Barbareschi is a seminarian who is a key figure in the Italian resistance. He works closely with Father Re and forges papers to help Jewish people escape the Nazis.
Mario is Pino’s second cousin. He dies after being shot in the head by a man who mistakes him for a fascist soldier.
Eugen Dollmann is Hitler’s personal translator. Dollmann is present at a meeting between Cardinal Schuster and Leyers, so the two men use him to translate.
Max Corvo is a high-ranking member of the Office of Strategic Services, an intelligence agency established by the United States during the war. Pino and Leyers meet Corvo to negotiate the terms of the German surrender in Milan.
Major Knebel is an American soldier Pino meets at the Hotel Diana near the end of the war. Major Knebel asks Pino to throw him a party and escort Leyers to the Austrian border.
Baka is a radio operator for the partisans.
Christian is Anna’s dead husband, who was killed early in the war.
Calabrese is the owner of the Fiat factory.
Mr. D’Angelo is a man Pino escorts along with Mrs. Napolitano.
Mr. Conte is the owner of an inn in Madesimo. He is Nicco’s father.
Adolf Hitler was the real-life leader of Nazi Germany. He is discussed often in the novel but only appears briefly, over the phone, when Leyers calls him in Calabrese’s factory.