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Roberto mio marito - 1915 - 2001

An American girlfriend, Carol Stephens introduced me to Roberto Vallone in 1959. He was to be my companion and later my husband until he left for his little cloud of peace on January 21, 2001.

After the disaster of my first marriage, I never wanted to get married again, I asked my son Carlo, whether it would disturb him if I just lived with Roberto. He said: “no, it is ok, go ahead I understand”.

On December 29, 1981 we were married. We were going to visit Carlo in Texas, where he lived and worked for Texas Instruments and had purchased his first beautiful home. Roberto just before leaving decided to surprise me: “Let us get married at Carlo’s home, I will never ask you again ! ” I thought that we had lived together for so long, and it was now time for a happy ending. So I said “ Yes “.

We arrived at Carlo’s home with all the necessary documents and surprised my son with the news; “Don’t do it for me ! ” he said.

We were married at home, my son was our bestman, I was scared stiff. The three of us together went on a honeymoon to Santa Fe as better described at page 10 and 11 of Part One of this book.

We have always been a very close loving family and enjoyed doing everything together. We followed each other as much as possible, whether it was in America, Tuscany or Puglia where my husband Roberto was born. Every year for Christmas we would get together at my studio in New York. The last time Carlo and Roberto arrived in New York the 20th of December 1994.

He was the best man I ever met, good down to the bones, but had no sense of business or money. So everyone took advantage of him. He had grown up in a very wealthy family, his cousins owned the bank and his father a chemist had invented a very popular digestive drink (I do not remember the name). In the past, he had inherited a small fortune from his aunt Rosina, he spent it all on purchasing and racing Ferrari, becoming the Ferrari Formula 1 of Italy in 1949.  In those days, they were all gentlemen racers that kept Ferrari in business, when he finished the money he was forced to quit.

In the family, they had hundreds of hectares of vineyard. He was expropriated twice by the Italian Government that had passed a law in order to give the land to the farmers.

This law was an enormous scandal, it cost the Government a fortune for they also built houses for these farmers, that later abandoned the land to go to work in factories taking windows and doors with them.

Roberto never came home once saying: “this was a great year for the vineyards”. There was always a loss of some sort, either the hale, the peronospera and all sorts of diseases. One year the hale was so strong that the vineyards were totally destroyed, they had to be cut back and he had no harvest for the 2 years following. Luckily, if the year was right, the quantity was enormous and the alcoholic content very high, so he managed to sell it to Chianti, who had the label, but no quantity or alcoholic content.

Later the EEC passed the law that concerned only the DOC vineyards: they would pay to destroy the vineyards much more than to run them. Roberto like many other DOC property owners, decided to destroy their vineyards. Roberto for years lived on the income by destroying 10 – 12 hectares per year. Only the gorgeous centenary olive trees were left.

He had to sign papers that he would not plan vineyards again for the next 25 years.

One day, we went to his farm called Torre Rossa and we discovered that a young man, the son of a farmer that had worked for Roberto, had plowed the whole area taking control of the farm. Going to court would be useless as with the Italian Law System it would take 20 years or more, not a promising adventure for us. The Communist political situation was always in favor of the farmers.

Roberto had inherited Torre Rossa from his father, as customary in Italy the land always had to remain in the family, he had the use for life, then it would go to his children of natural birth, if he had no children, he would go to his cousins or the children of his cousins. Roberto had adopted Carlo; for the law, adopted children had the same rights as children born from a regular marriage.  I had been successful in transferring the farm to the name of our son Carlo, who regularly owned it. However, we could not find a notary that would by-pass the word “of natural birth”.

Finally, after much troublesome dealings, Roberto was able to dispose of his farm. His cousins received their share.

After few years of peace, he became very ill and left for his trip without return. I was very ill and in great pain for several years.