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Summers on Lake Maggiore 

I wonder  why I  have this need to write about it , I  have  nothing that I really want to remember, about the years of my childhood, except the days with my wonderful father Mario.

I lived my childhood later on with my son, as we grew up together. The house of my childhood, when we returned from Africa, (Eritrea, Asmara) was Via Sebino in Rome.  It was some kind of hell, where the woman that gave birth to me, was never a mother, she was rather a monster of sort. Her mother, a lovely sweet woman named Concetta, one day asked my forgiveness, for : “having given birth to a monster”.

This woman that I refuse to call my mother, was violent, treated that wonderful  gentlemen  of  my  father  like  a  pig ,  she  would call  him

you old man”. She had lovers in every corner, when she came home in the middle of the night, she would wake up the all house, my father was practically her valet, he was forced out of bed, to help her get undressed and put her clothes away.  Yet he never left her, and when I was able to get married in 1948 (in those days, it was the only way to leave  home ) , I often  asked  him  to  get  away , to  come  and  stay

with me. He always replied that he could not, he had a mission, if he left there would be a tragedy. My younger brother had been sent to the hospital on several occasions, for stitches on his head. She would throw heavy objects at him. When my father died, my brother committed suicide. I called this woman: “The Widow”, I wanted no reference of her to me.

It is a horrible story in a chapter called my brother Alberto, the poet. That  house  of  horrors  does  not  exist anymore,  I  do  not  remember

its smell, I do remember the shape and colors of the  Art collection that had belonged to my father’s distinguished family. They were three brothers and one sister. My father’s mother was born Azari, and her brother had been burnt alive by the Austrians, his ashes scattered to the wind. The main street in Pallanza on the Lake Maggiore was named after this hero: Viale Azari. In the local dialect, my father’s mother  and  father  were called : “ Sciur  Carlin  and  Sciura  Emma ”.

Sciur Carlin had invented the first aerial ropeway.

His brother Fausto had meningitis as a child. As a result of this illness, he was as a very simple but loving man; he lived as a “clochard” but always remembered to visit me in Rome. He would bring me candies that I liked, because they came in an oblong thin red box. 

I used to put a cord around that box, pull it behind me, making believe that it was my train with passengers.

The sister of my father, Anna, was a great pianist, graduated from the conservatory in Rome. She had been raped during the war of 1915  by  the “Rossi” -  the Austrians , and  became  mentally ill .  She  would

no longer play, she just walked around the house singing a lament of some sort. Her piano and trousseau were given to me by my grandmother, Emma, my father’s mother. The widow sold the piano shortly after ,  what  was  left  of  Anna's  trousseau we found in a trunk in April, 2001, after the widow died. 

The other brother was Piero, an engineer, in charge of public works for Pallanza. Many of the public projects on the Lake Maggiore were produced by him, like the Gardens along the Lake - the School in Suna – the Hospital Castelli and work concerning the Hotel Majestic and the Hotel Eden. In those days, there was not a medication for paratyphoid; he died of that illness, contracted after a picnic at the “Belvedere”, where he ate a huge amount of figs. The “Belvedere” was a property owned by the family.  My father was born in Pallanza, on the lake Maggiore, on November 11, 1888.

I had spent so many lonely hours looking at his family collection and sculptures by Troubetzkoy, several paintings of the 800, and they certainly have something to do with my becoming a painter and sculptor later on. All these artists were friends of my grandmother.

Also Toscanini, who lived nearby on the “Isolotto Toscanini”.

Much of my childhood was being with the nuns. My vacations on the Lake Maggiore, were spent at the nuns embroidering all morning until lunch time. The “widow” did not want me around, yet I did not find any of my embroideries, which I remember vividly. She must have sold them.  She sold everything she could lay her hands on.

In the afternoon my wonderful  father Mario, who had brought me up very courageous, more like a young boy, had bought me a one place racing boat (schiffino), which I kept in a private place by the lake, carefully bringing home every night the oars. I thought that without oars, no one could steal it. I often went to play tennis.

I was known by all the fishermen, the men of the rental boats on the lake Maggiore, crossing the lake from one side to the other: Stresa, Isola  Madre, Isola Bella, Isola Pescatore, as “la Tusa del Mario, la Tusa del Lavatelli ” ( the kid of Mario ), for  certainly  they  had  never  seen a young girl 12 , row with  such a  potent  perfect stroke, like in a race.  I still remember my father’s instructions, while teaching me the perfect stroke of a rower, how I had to turn around the oars at each stroke, to make them just barely caress the water.

I taught that to my son Carlo.

This is among the most painful of my memories and I want to get rid of them and get on to the other god, bad and fabulous events of my  life. However there is one great memory about the Lake Maggiore: when my son Carlo was 4 years old, we spent time there in the summer.  He loved food. As we walked home to Viale Azari, we would come up a tiny road called “La Ruga” (the wrinkle). We would pass by a cheese store, where he would always want to buy “one whole mozzarella”. Sometimes, we were going home for lunch, I tried to bypass the store, so that he would not spoil his appetite. Immediately, he would have a “tantrum attack”, throw himself on the floor and scream at the top of his lunges.  I kept on walking, when he saw me disappear around the corner, he would get up and run to catch up with me.  Sometimes, however, I did get him the mozzarella.

He was so much fun, the best part of my life, he certainly has continued to love food.