The Art of Silence

In the what was once spectacularly resplendent Montecatini Terme, in the not-yet sultry Tuscan July and August, in 1983, I sat fi ed in con!ersation with one of the most remar"a#le women I ha!e e!er had chance to con!erse with$ The %rincipessa Marcella &orghese sat in a wrought-iron lo!e chair directly in front of me'right ne t to her elegantissimo #lac" attach( case$ My Italian friend, )o#erto, in *ene+uela, had recommended me to his uncle ,ino who was the director of the La Pace hotel'e actly where the princess was so-ourning with her hus#and %rincipe %aolo, and precisely where in the albergo.s stunning garden %rincipessa Marcella pleaded with me to write twenty-fi!e than"-you notes for the sales force /)e!lon0 of women in the 1nited 2tates with whom she had shortly met earlier in an attempt to stimulate them to accept, as a front-line product, her colossal idea for the production of Cruets of Montecatini Mud /3hy not 4dau#560 which she opined would enli!en the comple ions of American women if they, naturally, applied the su#stance each and e!ery night for the rest of their li!es$ The princess insisted that all the #illets had to #e apiece newfangled #ecause she did not want to offend the cosmeticallyminded adult females with a duplicated form letter$ I told her it would #e a cinch for me to do$ The %rincipessa Marcella posed herself #oth charmingly and resolutely, and her posture might ha!e #een thought of as #eing militaristic had I not supposed she had #een accustomed all her life to #eing on 4parade$6 There was not the slightest grimace on her face #ecause she felt stressed in #eing in an upright position almost since childhood$ 7er facial features demonstrated that she was a #eautiful woman, and her profile was 4de lu e$6 The #usiness portion shunted to the side, I was fro+en in thought for a few seconds #efore I opened my mouth to spea" with her

once more$ Many thoughts flew #y in my #rain$ 3as that cream green )olls-)oyce in front of the La Pace hers5 7ow much did that attach( case cost5 3as she happily married to %rincipe %aolo5 8id he cut her toenails5 In that %rincipe %aolo held two doctoral degrees, one in political science and the other in agriculture, what were his theses written a#out5 3here did she learn to spea" 9nglish so well5 7ad she come to the La Pace for its famous mud treatments5 3hat did she thin" of Americans5 8id she want to swindle mud /4dau#560 all o!er American women #ecause she thought they were o#tuse, or was she so desperate to earn medium of e change for her family and:or her country5 I hashed out something to say so as to put to a halt that pregnant pause, and #ecause'most of all'she had remained silent, too$ ;ot that she was unsocial$ ;o$ I was to learn later that secreti!eness, bocca chiusa, is an Italian strange form of im#ecility that 7enry <issinger said was a peculiar sort of stupidity$ =ots of things to #e ashamed of in Italy, lots of things to #e wrapped under the #lan"ets of 2ilence$ ;e!ertheless, it was wonderful for me to en-oy at least the sense of dignity that the princess e uded principally #ecause only three wee"s #efore our meeting I had come from *ene+uela where dignity was, indeed, in !ery, !ery short supply'not to say that Italy is an oasis of formal reser!e or seriousness of manner, appearance or language$ I went on$ I leaned forward and, in a compassionate manner, related to her that I was particularly curious a#out the 2econd 3orld 3ar, and that I was not enamored of American historians and their interpretations of times gone #y$ 2he flashed a lopsided grin, then reclined to the right side putting her right arm on the right armrest of the two-seater$ 2he ruminated for a moment, and then per"ed up with the self-assurance in that which she was a#out to e press, and loo"ed at me almost happily with that what she was a#out to narrate to me$ >ne night during the war'she went along spea"ing 9nglish elo?uently'a platoon of ,erman soldiers #ro"e into the *illa &orghese in )ome where she and %aolo were spending time together at home$ The ;a+is ordered them to carry out into their courtyard all the household.s furniture$ 2ome of the soldiers who represented the ,erman fascist party, indi!iduals not especially admirers of Italian no#ility, helped Marcella and %aolo with the hefty pieces$ >rders were to stac" all the components into a huge pile$ 3hen all of their furnishings'many of which were centuries-

old heirlooms that %aolo had #een raised among'were loaded up high, Marcella and %aolo, at gunpoint, were ordered #y the ;a+i commander of the military unit to watch as containerfuls of gasoline were slushed o!er the family circle.s particularities and su#se?uently set to flames #y the ;a+i group.s leader$ The princess stopped there$ Marcella, %rincipessa Marcella, loo"ed stoically at me, and did not say a single word$ I waited a #it more for her to spea" on$ 2till not e!en a grunt$ I at long last reali+ed that she was stalling for me to utter something@ 2till to this day, I do not "now why or how I managed to stand up to !er#ali+e something$ I too" her hand'as any true-to-life prince would ha!e'and softly #rought %rincipessa Marcella to her feet$ I told her I had ne!er "issed a princess #efore, and I as"ed her if she would mind if I "issed her on #oth chee"s$ 2he said 4;o,6 #ut #ounced her head up and down 4Aes$6 After I did, I loo"ed at her sternly and saidB 47ey, you didn.t turn into a frog@6 2he #urst out laughing and we parted from each other, friends for life, e!en though we ne!er met e!er again$ Three or four wee"s later, I recei!ed a postcard from her$ >n one side was the message that she was !ery grateful for the twenty-fi!e than" you.s I had written, and the note closed with an in!itation to !isit her in Crans, 2wit+erland$ >n the opposite side was the picture of her stunning 2wiss chalet$ At the time, I had not money to e!en ta"e the train to get together with her, #ut I would ha!e if I could ha!e had$ %rincipe %aolo died in 198D, eighty years of ageE %rincipessa Marcella died in FGGF, ninety years of age$ H H H

%rincipessa Marcella was not the only Italian princess I was to cordially 4loc" horns6 with$ %rincipessa ,iorgiana Corsini was another$ I was the pri!ate 9nglish tutor of four of her ram#unctious grandchildren'two of whom I hope are not in prison$ ,iorgiana, as was Marcella, was not #orn into Italian no#leness #ut married into it$ A #ig difference, n'est-ce-pas? /;e!er marry one for his or her moneyE marry for the money of their father'or their medie!al ancestors@0 They say the Ilorentines are !ery 4closed$6 %erhaps$ Ilorentines in the past produced glorious wor"s of Art and contri#uted to 2cience in a magnificent manner$ Iiren+e /Ilorence0

was called The Cradle of the )enaissance, #ut today Ilorentines ha!e made of Iiren+e An Atelier of Masterpieces of Corruption, Malfeasance, ,reed and 2tupidity$ They are e perts in the Art of 2ilence$ 2o much to hide, they are inordinately cautious when spea"ing@ ,iorgiana succeeded in #eing 4stoppered6 with me and to this day I wonder whether or not she was -ust a sno# or -ust another Ilorentine trying to hold onto, #y hoo" or #y croo", a %ast which is now pass($ May#e she was attempting to hide something5 That would not #e unusual for mem#ers of the anachronistic Italian 4aristocracy,6 too many of whom are e cruciatingly desperate to hang on$ I taught her grandchildren going on four years, and I !isited %ala++o Corsini /*ia Il %rato, near %orta %rato0 two times a wee" during the school years of the "ids$ 3ithin those time frames, I spo"e a#out twenty-fi!e words with the 4princess,6 and most of them were 4,ood afternoon$6 In fact, she ne!er uttered a word to me when'three or four times'we shared a 9uropean miniele!ator ride to the ground floor of %ala++o Corsini$ And once I wrote to her as"ing if she would please find some time for me to e plain some yore of her hus#and.s family.s history$ 2he ne!er answered my letter$ %erhaps she, too, was still shell-shoc"ed from the 2econd 3orld 3ar and detested Americans for #om#ing the other side of the Arno )i!er not far from her centuries-old home$ &ut, she should not ha!e #een so stuffy with me most importantly #ecause I made a heroic effort to teach her grandchildren, mostly spoiled #rats, not only 9nglish, #ut also the -oy of studying$ ,iorgiana ne!er than"ed me for that #ecause she was more interested in "eeping her nose high in the air where she could a!oid confronting that Italian reality e!en too harsh for herB Ital ! The "issolution of #ne $uropean %ation State& 2he coiled up hard into herself and thus enshrouded her presence thin"ing she could a!oid indisputa#le realities$ ,eorges Chastellain /1JGD-1JKD0, &urgundian chronicler and poet, o#ser!ed that 4princes and princesses often li!e in hostility for they are men and women, and their affairs are high and perilous, and their natures are su#-ect to many passions, such as hatred and en!yE their hearts are !erita#le dwelling places of these #ecause of their pride in reigning$6 2ince the late 19JGs, Italian princes and princesses ha!e not pre!ailed$ They are #itter and !indicti!e$ They ha!e #een fiercely smitten$ And they are furious@ 3hat wrath dwells in their psyches@ 2tay far away from them'these practitioners of The Art of 2ilence@ Irom the definite past time of the 2econd 3orld 3ar when Italy, with the prodding of the 1nited 2tates go!ernment, shifted gears from #eing ruled #y a "ing to that of #eing guided #y a repu#lic, the

Italian no#ility has come upon dreaded times$ They ha!e lost most of the authority they once wielded'that they had e erted for centuries$ The rug was pulled out from under them$ It was a rude shoc" that they had to #e su#-ected to$ Italian princes and princesses, counts and countesses, #arons and #aronesses$$$all of them had to fight on #y themsel!es against a post-war communistinspired populace and a people who praised Jesus, Mary and Joseph$ Italians were torn #etween honoring Mar or ,od$ Many Italian no#les scattered to the winds, and transmigrated to safer ha!ens #ringing with them the copiousness they had accumulated through the centuries$ 2ecret #an" accounts throughout the world e ploded with Italian #aronial medium of e change$ Those Italian #lue #loods who remained in Italy were #urdened with painful ta es on their properties, e or#itant la#or costs needed to reno!ate their material possessions, and the derision of the Italian people who detested these defroc"ed authoritarians for still possessing !ast landholdings throughout the repu#lic'real estate worth huge fortunes depending on one important factorB the push, with a reinforced inclination, then the hoo"ing of indi!iduals, predominantly wealthy foreigners, willing to purchase the patricians. medie!al holdings$ Ior some time this #usiness was lucrati!e, #ut with the passing of the decades the Italian no#ility rein!ented itself #ecoming a sym#ol of the economic disaster that is the Italian economy today$ The I>) 2A=9 signs are tattered, #lowing in the wind$ There are not many ta"ers for the multimillion-dollar price tags that are proffered$ 1nsold aristocratic real estate is #oth a tragedy for the sil"stoc"ings themsel!es and the Italian nation #ecause the possessions of the aristocrats represent, represented, the glorious %ast of Italy'its culture, its traditions and its former national powerfulness that no longer e ist$ 2uppose one uni!ersity regent or multi-nat *% meets an Italian no#leman or no#lewoman at a coc"tail party in ;ew Aor", =ondon, %aris$$$ 7e or she pulls out the pictures of his or her lu uriant medie!al !illa, on a luscious green Tuscan hill, that is for sale$ The photos show the #rilliantly created ceiling frescos$ The classic architecture of the edifice ta"es one #ac" o!er the centuries$ The oli!e tree gro!es and the !ineyards offer another nonmodern appeal$ %erfect for an e ecuti!e hideaway, a school for American uni!ersity students in search of artistic and cultural e periences, or the hideaway for a wealthy roc"star$ The potential #uyer is lured to the post$ &ut dri!ing up the hill to the estate, the surroundings ta"e on an entirely different hue from

that that glistened on the glossy photographs$ The grounds are uncared for$ The medie!al structure appears to ha!e #een last painted in the thirteenth century$ The wall and ceiling paintings are corroded with mildew$ The co#we#s are profuse$ /I once recei!ed a desperate call from an Italian woman who #egged me to come to her !illa a part of which had #een rented out to tourists to pay her steep ta es$ 2he implored me to hurry and then act as interpreter #ecause two ,erman couples had complained a#out the uncleanliness of their rooms$ 3hen I arri!ed, #reathless, I found two ,erman engineers and their wi!es frothing at their mouths$ >ne ,erman directed me to one corner of the room, and there, pointed to co#we#s in the noo"$ I interpreted his furiousness$ The owner of the !illa, now !ery much indignant, instructed me to tell the ,erman applied scientist that the spider we#s were medie!al spider we#s and, according to Italian law, could not #e displaced$ The ,erman party called for the #ill and chec"ed out posthaste$0 The real estate #ro"er, la#oring on #ehalf of the high#orn #eings, is smiling e u#erantly'constantly reminding the potential #uyers of the stupendous luncheon of pasta and Chianti wine planned for them$ If the fish #ite the #ait, they are on their way to reaping the rewards of possessing a stupendous site on a rolling Tuscan hillside, and the reps are an ious to report home to their uni!ersity or #oardroom superiors the success of their #usiness dealings with Italian no#ility represented #y a local real estate agent$ Admittedly, it was ta"en into consideration that a great deal of repair wor" was in the cards, #ut this was not an apparent o#stacle that would cancel the idea of the ideal deal$ /The real estate #usinessperson also was one of the cognoscenti of The Art of 2ilence@0 The nightmares'that will go on for years'are a#out to #egin$ It is disco!ered that the plum#ing system of the imposing !illa, installed in 1F3L A8, does not function, and a connection to the mains, way down there near the highway, will cost a pretty penny$ The frescos on the ceiling must #e written off as a loss #ecause the roof needs to #e replaced, and there is no way the !alua#le murals can #e sal!aged$ The country house.s electrical system, too, must #e su#stituted, and a huge tas" is on the hori+on to do that #ecause the meter-thic" walls will not #e easy to chip into$ The repair costs start to mount higher then higher and their total percentage of the #uying price is a#out to reach such an outrageous figure, the uni!ersity or corporate ad!ance person is actually thin"ing he or

she might #e gi!en the a e for his or her lac" of foresight$ /In >cto#er FG13, a %entagon study of the Campania 'egione /;aples0 of Italy found that a !ast area of land, on which ten / @ 0 1nited 2tates military #ases were located, contained such high ?uantities of to ic waste and e!en radioacti!e gar#age, military personnel there were ordered not to coo", drin" or e!en clean their teeth with water from the faucets of the surrounding areas$0 There is more to come in this mini drama$ 3hat is to transpire, what is the most disgusting will #e the goings-on with the #uilding inspectors who arri!e to protect the honor and glory of the Middle Ages$ 8id I use the word 4#ri#es56 ;o@ >f course not@ 7ow could I thin" of using the word 4#ri#e6 when there are so many fatuous figurati!e e tenuations such as 4production incenti!es, la#or stimulation fees, or e!en'Iranciscan Iathers. Iraternity contri#utions56 And what transpires if you !oice your disappro!al5 Aou guessed it$ %ermission to install that olympic-si+ed swimming pool you had in mind will #e pushed to such a later date, you scram#le for your Malo pills$ The Art of 2ilence5 Italian princes and princesses are not the only scoundrels in search of real estate sales$ The )oman Catholic Church is em#roiled in the e act dilemma$ >nly Jesus "nows how many churches, con!ents, monasteries and office #uildings are the property of the )CC$ >ne Italian newspaper guesstimates that FGM of all Italian real estate is possessed #y the )CC$ In ;aples /%opulationB 3$D million0, there are fi!e-hundred churches #ut two-hundred of them are closed #ecause they ris" collapse$ /Ta"e a construction wor"er.s helmet on your ne t Italian !acation@0 In =ucca /%opulationB 8K,GGG0, there are one-hundred churches$ A different church for e!ery Christmas of your life@ Italians rarely go to church$ The on-the-s"ids Italian economy is not drawing Italian in!estment and rental #usiness$ There are aristocratic and ecclesiastical ruins all o!er Italy$ In ,ermany, churches are #eing con!erted into discothe?ues, restaurants and gyms$ To rip down these medie!al #uildings would ta"e atomic Caterpillar e?uipment$ The real estate of the no#ility and the )CC are #lotted throughout Italy to remind Italians that e!en though they reside in the %resent, they are ine trica#ly related to a %ast they cannot sha"e off themsel!es$ Italians are prisoners of their now mostly putrid %ast$ My dear reader, ha!e you e!er !isuali+ed that ancient method of carrying water, you "now, the one with the yo"e and the two water #uc"ets dangling and filled to the #rim with water5 I cannot thin"

of a #etter figurati!e e pression that descri#es the Italian dilemma$ Two pailfuls of water, two pailfuls of #urden, of stress, of encum#rance$$$two Italian !e ations, two horri#le authoritarian #luffs that continue to "eep the Italian populace in a state of stasis$ The Italian no#ility and the )oman Catholic Church do nothing #ut clench Italians in an eternal e?uipoise'fi ed to a %ast that no longer #elongs to them$ The poor Italians@ Capti!es of their times gone #y$ The %ope, this pop icon, this roc" star without a song #ut with a hea!en-sent ad agency, is a political figure for Italians'a sym#ol only of a !ague, unreal 4power6 that is !isuali+ed on the world scene$ /Italians used to #elie!e in ,od #ut now they reali+e 7e does not #elie!e in them@0 Italian ecclesiastical and aristocratic authority is a non-entity, and Italians are desperate to find ways to remain in the 2un #ecause they "now their centuries-old splendor e ists no more$ Aet, loo" on the hori+on@ The ;ational 2ecurity Agency has come to Italy.s rescue@ Aes@ 9lectronic interceptions /The Art of 2ilence@0 of the goings-on of princes and princesses, #ishops and cardinals, Italian #usinessmen and #usinesswomen, are putting these medie!al criminals under the scrutiny of Italian ta collectors'to try to sa!e Italy from economic disaster$ >r from the decline of 3estern Ci!ili+ation@ 3ill the ;2A strain to stem the nosedi!es of ,reece, %ortugal and 2pain, too5 Then the rest of 9urope5 The ;2A and Italian ta collectors are in cahoots@ ;ot one prince or prince of the church goes to #ed each night without thin"ing that the ta collector has disco!ered their nest eggs stashed throughout the world in licit and illicit financial ha!ens$ It used to #e the atom #om# that terrified e!ery#ody, now'you guessed it@ 3as that Canadian-#orn economist letter-perfect when he said that the success of capitalism was its failure5 (oil)*

Authored #y Anthony 2t$ John L 8ecem#er MMNIII Calen+ano, Italy www$scri#d$com:thewordwarrior




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