10 November

Pirandello's Home

Via Antonio Bosio 13b (second floor) in Rome was Luigi Pirandello’s last address. He died here in 1936 at the age of 69.

Pirandello’s wife, Maria Antonietta Portulano, had a patrimony that enabled the couple to leave Sicily and move to Rome so Pirandello could pursue his career as a writer. But when Maria Antonietta’s  patrimony was lost thanks to bad investments, she became mentally destabilized.  From 1919 until her death at the age of 88 in 1959, Maria Antonietta lived in a clinic on via Nomentana.

His wife’s madness inspired Pirandello’s interest in Freud. And in masks.

In 1925, Pirandello signed the Manifesto of Intellectual Fascists believing Mussolini was someone capable of reorganizing a chaotic and unorganized country. Pirandello also became a fascist for economic reasons.  But Mussolini continued to favor D’Annunzio and Grazia Deledda irritating Pirandello to the point that he took his party card and publically ripped it to shreds. Nevertheless, a few years later Pirandello donated his Nobel Prize medal to Oro alla Patria, an initiative to help  pay for the Abyssinia Campaign (the annexation of Ethiopia by Italy). Mussolini asked the Italians to donate anything they had made of  gold. A ring made of iron was given to those donating their wedding rings.

Around the time Pirandello, with Mussolini’s help, formed his Teatro d’Arte in Rome, he met the actress Marta Abba. He was 59 and she was only 24. Bewitched, Pirandello offered her a role in Massimo Bontempelli’s Nostra Dea. And so they could have some privacy, Pirandello built Villa Fiorita, a Tuscan hideaway at Lido di Camiore. Marta, like D’Annunzio, was decadent and capricious. And a great muse. For awhile.

The couple cracked and Marta went to the U.S. where she married a millionaire. But Marta, addressing him as Caro Maestro, continued to write Pirandello until the day he died.

 

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Related: the complete text of The Two Lives of Mattia Pascal online + Le due vite di Mattia Pascal – parte 1 youtube + As You Desire Me is a 1932 American pre-Code film adaptation of the play by Pirandello …Greta singing + Parla di Nephelai…post in Italian about Maria Antonietta Portulano + Pirandello web + Marta Abba talking about Pirandello yutube

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9 November

Pirandello's Bedroom

Luigi Pirandello’s bedroom

via Antonio Bosio 13b, Rome

 

Gustave Moreau Musee'

Gustave Moreau’s bedroom

14 rue de la Rochefoucauld, Paris

 

 

 

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8 November

Framed Ivy with Lions

Framed Ivy with Lions on via Villa Albani, Rome.

English ivy has no backbone so it clings and crawls. And wraps itself around anything it can.

Thanks to their lusty affair, Semele and Zeus were about to have a baby. But Hera, Zeus’ wife, found out and, disguised as an old woman, made Semele doubt that Zeus was really the god he claimed to be. So Semele ingeniously insisted that Zeus appear to her in his divine form. Little did she know that gods are not meant to be seen as they really are. When Zeus finally exposed himself, lightning jumped out from the sky and struck Semele turning her into ashes. Miraculously, ivy starting growing wildly around the columns uniting them so they wouldn’t fall. The ivy also grew around Semele’s baby, Dionysus, protecting him from the flames. In honor of the plant that saved his life. Dionysus wears a crown of ivy.

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7 November

Viale Liegi 6

Viale Liegi 6 is the address once shared by writers Massimo Bontempelli and Paola Masino. There’s a commemorative plaque outside the building with the inscription “The only instrument of our work will be the imagination.”

Way before Garcia Marquez wrote magical realism in Spanish, Massimo Bontempelli was writing it in Italian. He became even more magical in 1927 when he met Paola Masino. Despite the 30 year age difference and the strong objections of her parents, the two began a love story and literary collaboration. Paola, writer, translator, and librettist loved  card games (she often played “scopone” with Pirandello) and convinced many of her artist friends to make playing cards for her. These artists included Alberto Burri, Carlo Carrà, Renato Guttuso, Massimo Campigli, and Carla Accardi.

When Paola and Bontempelli decided they no longer wanted to be fascists, they had to leave Rome. After Mussolini’s downfall they went back and started the magazine «Città» with the collaboration of Alberto Moravia, Alberto Savinio, and others.

Bontempelli died in 1960. Paola was only 52. She kept herself busy putting Bontempelli’s papers in order, translating French authors, and writing in her diary. Then silence. Paola was still living at Viale Liegi 6 when she died in 1989 at the age of 81.

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Related: LE CARTE DA GIOCO + Paola Masino: l’album segreto della scrittrice che racconta lo stile di un epoca + RAI la scacchiera davanti allo specchio + Birth and Death of the Housewife by Paola Masina pdf + «Album di vestiti» Paola Masino (1908-1989) ci lascia una sua autobiografia raccontata (in maniera splendida) attraverso gli abiti indossati.

Bontempelli and Paola lived previously at Corso Trieste 112 not far from Pirandello’s home

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6 November

Luchino Visconti's Home

In 1939, Luchino Visconti moved to via Salaria 366 across the street from Villa Ada. Film director and antifascist, Visconti risked being arrested and went into hiding leaving his home in the hands of film star Maria Denis who was madly in love with him.

One day the SS arrived at Visconti’s villa and arrested Visconti’s gardner, Paolo Mocci, who was a resistance fighter. Mocci was taken to the  infamous Pensione Jaccarino on via Romagna where he was tortured then forced to the Fosse Ardeatine where, along with 334 other prisoners, he was murdered.

Maria was taken in for questioning some time later. She was interrogated by Pietro Koch, Fascist police chief. A few days later, Visconti was arrested and condemned to death. Yet, strangely enough, released. Maria would later say that it was thanks to the infatuation Koch had for her that saved Visconti’s life. Nevertheless, on April 5, 1946, Maria was arrested for having collaborated with the Fascists and thrown in jail for 18 days. Visconti refused to be a witness in her behalf but did pay her legal fees. Despite being cleared of all accusations, Maria’s reputation was indelibly tarnished leaving her career in ashes.

A few years later, Franco Zeffirelli would live at via Salaria 366 with Visconti as would Helmut Berger. But in 1972, Visconti, victim of an ictus, was forced to give up his notorious home.

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Related: Villa Visconti + Maria Denis + Le vittime della banda Koch ricordate con una targa

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