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San Procolo by Michelangelo - Basilica di San domenico

Angel by Michelangelo--Basilica San Domenico, Bologna

Front page, Vasari's LIVES OF THE ARTISTS

Peter Luger Steak

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Two Towers--Bologna



Santa Maria Maggiore

dish of pasta cinghiale (boar sauce. recipe in blog post)

cover E-edition BART: a Life of A. Bartlett Giamatti

Shel Silverstein, from JOHN DANTE'S INFERNO

John Dante's Polaroids (2)

John Dante's Polaroids

Coming soon--Dante in Love

JFK Remembered in Italy

November 26, 2013

Tags: JFK Remembered, Marconi

Remembering JFK from Italy (1963/2013)
Ferruccio—called Ruccio-- and I together that day 50 years ago, in late afternoon Italian time, in Bologna. Today we arrange to meet at that city’s Porta Castiglione, named for the author, diplomat, soldier and courtier Baldassarre Castiglione (1478-1529), best known for his book, The Courtier. Italian streets have memory. They are named for the best of Italian society and culture, with the names of more men than women. A street in this town with the name of a woman does not come to mind. I recall a party in Rome a couple of years ago attended by Daisy and me and an aristocrat member of the government at that time who wore an electric blue suit that only Italian men can wear, and he was introduced to Daisy, who smiled and extended her hand, and in the time it takes to say Jack Robinson he had already taken Daisy’s right hand, bent down and kissed it. The thing is, he didn’t really kiss her hand, his lips stopped less than an inch short. Instead of his lips kissing the flesh of her hand, it kissed the air just above it. I am early and mill around beneath the Via Castiglione gate.

(city gate, Bologna)

Prosperous, strategic medieval cities were confined within walls with gates, or porte, providing protection and battlements from which to protect and fight, then the walls came down and over the centuries eroded and were carted away. But the Italian mind decided to retain the gates, elaborate constructions of entrance and departure. Ruccio, who has a fashionable address just beyond this gate, blinks his Fiat’s lights as he approaches. I duck in and we’re off to Via Orefici where I was living the day and time when JFK was assassinated. He pulls out onto the vialle, or main road, swirling with traffic. Italians are great somnambulant drivers and, within seconds, this one, my friend, Ruccio, pulls over.
“I’m dead. I need a coffee.” It’s around 3pm. Italy is unimaginable as much without its coffee as without its pasta. We go into his bar. Residents are faithful to their bars. Want to learn the Italian language? Pick out a bar, take your coffee there as often as possible, and keep your eyes, ears and heart open. “Two espressos, one for my American friend.” For some reason, Ruccio likes to identify me as American to the locals. It’s 70 years since American bombs fell onto Italy. I recall a wonderful neighbor on Via Orefici named Sylvana telling me that she had to go out in the depth of night on her bicycle and steal potatoes and carrots, and they ate dog. Ruccio showed me where American bombs had fallen on Bologna, some of the areas still cordoned off. He knew the exact spots. He’d turned and pointed to a sport about 20 yards away.
“Do you remember?” I ask the bar owner’s wife.
“It was dinnertime but we all went out into the piazza (Piazza Maggiore) and watched on a giant TV screen.” Friday November 22, 1963, 8pm Italian time, 1pm Eastern Standard time, Walter Kronkite takes off his glasses, sticks out his tongue a short ways, puts his glasses back on: “President Kennedy died at 1pm Central Standard time, some 28 minutes ago.”
“Esperanza,” she says. They had all held out hope. Today “Hope” is the operative word in the hearts of many Italians. Translating the Bar proprietor: “Before this, much attention was given to the Cuban missile crisis and also to Krushchev.”
Italians take moments to drink their espresso then they are revitalized the rest of the day until the post-dinner one. Most Italians I have asked say that espresso at night does not keep them up.
Back in the Fiat. “Nostalgia,” I say with Italian pronunciation.
“No nostalgia,” Ruccio says. Instead—he’s remembering. “A young man of color who was very upset, who was he?” He has already mentioned this twice. Maybe by repeating that he cannot remember the details will help them materialize. “Just a few moments then we ride out to Sasso and Marconi’s tomb.”
Since I’ve been away from Italy for some time Ruccio has taken it upon himself to establish our itinerery. When we first met, the year John F. Kennedy was president of the United States, I was living in the Regina Hotel on Via Independenza. I had checked in very late and got right to sleep and then upon awakening and opening the shutter—the new day’s light shining down onto Bologna’s famous flea market in full trade, stand after stand in rows with goods that had spilled out of cars and vans. It is the same today. From that vantage point I recall an incident which became the material of my first effort as a writer, watching a woman being harassed by some man, he was tugging at something she was holding and she was pulling it back, a real tug of war. Instead of going down to see about, I wrote about it. Kind of like Ruccio’s attempt to remember: maybe writing about it in a passionate way would defend the woman in some way, help her cause. Outside the Regina Hotel still stands a statue of a mounted General Giuseppe Garibaldi free of graffitti while Garibaldi may have been interested in what young people had on their minds—late at night at a bar behind the statue Ruccio and I would go and sit and talk with the prostitutes having their coffees before setting off for the sottopassagi, an underground netherworld no longer in existence, composed of shops and bars and public toilets. In Bologna you could walk 30 miles under a deluge and not feel a drop. Under the porticos, through the sottopassagi. Inclement weather was not an impediment to the prostitutes’ work. Then we all used to go out to the viales, wide main drives, where the women strolled in short skirt and high heels, kicking their pocketbooks, and waited, and sometimes sauntered off into the dark vicoli, or alleys. Ruccio drives along a vialle, a little too early for the women to be out.
“Your students at the university know who Baldassarre Castiglione was?”
“Poci.”
“JFK?”
“Poci.”
Young Italians love Youtube where they can watch Lee Harvey Oswald getting shot live on TV by Jack Ruby but may not know that Ruby would die in prison with little fanfare. Or watch Marilyn Monroe sing Happy Birthday! to President Kennedy. Ruccio pulls up and parks in front of our old building on Via Orefici. My memories of that time are surprisingly bright.
“Building still looks good. First floor.”
“Yes, my father and I carried in the armadio.” He has recalled this at least thrice, his father having passed some time ago and of whom he has some jocular memories.
“Your door was always open.” He lived on the third floor. “I could hear the Austrian prince Jurgen Troberg singing lullabies to baby Guglielmo.”
“He told me that his great sorrow was falling in love with a married woman.”
“A new group from Liverpool sang their first tracts. Two British students all exited about them were there, one from the West Country, one with the cognomen Pierce. Then the news came on the television.”
Walter Kronkite: “President Kennedy died at 1pm Central Standard Time, some 28 minutes ago.”
“A black student was there, do you know who he was?”
“He may have been a student, too, from a great many parts of the world--”
Then we shared a moment of silence.

“Oswald didn’t do it. Bullets fired at different angles.”
With his free hand, the other guiding us to Sasso-Marconi, he demonstrates the precise angles of the bullets that both hit and missed Kennedy that day in Dallas, Texas. “And Jack Ruby knocks Oswald off right away--”
“Si, si, si--”
“Mafia?” he says.
“Probabilmente.”
“There was considerable talk and literature about Momo Giancana of Chicago.”
“Si, si, si.”
He likes the idea that the killers could have been members of an Italian organization. Americans are simply not industrious enough to find the assassins of this great man.
Ruccio pulls up and stops in front of Marconi’s tomb. It is majestic, set on a wide, lower terrace beneath an estate, either the house where Guglielmo Marconi was born or his office. Ruccio is not sure. I turn and look at the hills of Sasso, low, soft, rolling, legato uno l’altro, of a piece, with crevices studded with cypresses punctuating the sky, here and there patches of brown earth. There is no one else here. You could hear a pin drop. We walk up the stone path to the tomb, bordered on both sides by expansive lawns. The tomb is gated but you can look in, at the coffin. We peer into the mausoleum. Ruccio wants to recall the story of Marconi and the farmer.
“Among these hills lived a farmer about 25, 26 years old whose name I can’t--”
“Not here but in Ireland he built a wireless transmitting station as a link between Cornwall and Galway, a wavelength of 350 meters--”
“Yes, but the farmer--”
“Exactly a hundred years ago he sent a message of greetings from Theodore Roosevelt, the President of the United States, to King Edward VII of Britain, the first transatlantic radio transmission from the United State--”
“Wait--” He looks around. “Marconi tells this farmer, ‘Go to the other side of this hill and if you hear my ransmission--boom!—fire your gun.”
The farmer nods agreement and turns and leaves, his rifle over his shoulder.
Marconi works his telegraph. He looks up and sees hills. It was a beautiful quiet day such as today. Ruccio and I read the inscription on his tomb which Ruccio translates as, Few men have altered the course of history as did Guglielmo Marconi who lies here to the great benefit of mankind.
Shots ring out in the nearby hills and echo all around.




New Work - Dante in Love - a modern literary translation of Dante's classic A New Life

Fiction. Translation
a haunting beautiful eternal story of unrequited love--
Italian and Italian American Studies. Biography
Illiterate and poor, the daughter of a herdsman in 19th century Brazil, Anita Ribeiro was lifted from a life of obscurity to one that is the stuff of romance and adventure. When she and a young Italian exile by the name of Captain Garibaldi met in 1839, they joined in the cause of founding a Brazilian republic. Later they went on to lead the defense of Montevideo from an Argentine siege—just one episode among many in their idealistic, nationalistic crusade in a time of immense revolutionary upheaval. It was Anita who taught Garibaldi the guerrilla ways of the gauchoS≪/i>, and they lived as man and wife through a series of adventure and wars. Returning to Italy in 1848 to fight for a united republican Italy, as revolution swept throughout Europe, Anita and Garibaldi were tragically separated by her untimely death the following year. Garibaldi went on to ultimate fame as the father of modern Italy—while Anita's story drifted into the mists of legend. This book, the first full biography of the remarkable life of Anita Garibaldi, tells the true story of a fascinating and important woman.
Italian History, Biography, Women's Studies
Biography
John Dante, Champ - and his great friends Shel Silverstein & Hugh Hefner, and many others
Memoir
"The substance of this memoir is what makes us human when we come home from struggling in the world." --Afaa Michael Weaver
Biography. New Print Edition. http://www.amazon.com/BART-Life-Bartlett-Giamatti/dp/0977282481/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362605171&sr=1-3&keywords=anthony+valerio
"A Wonderful Read."
–Larry King, Newsday
Memoir/Fiction
"The Little Sailor is a literary gem from one of our foremost writers. Anthony Valerio's evocative prose woos the characters onto the page and into the hearts of its readers. His charming, eccentric, deeply moving women emerge from a world of distant memories with extraordinary force and passion–sensual, enticing, unforgettable–and the reader is mesmerized."
–Edvige Giunta

IMMIGRANTS, according to Anthony Valerio