15 DECEMBER 2012


Our former colleague, Venetian internationalist Marco Vianello-Chiodo, just reminded us not only that he had written a book twelve years ago, but that he still has his gracious sense of humour, affection for friends, and a cultured way of dealing with our unpredictable word. Marco had led UNICEF's Communications operations and briefly headed the U.N. Department of Public Information.

We enclose a letter he just sent to a number of his friends and a sample of the old new book which can be obtained through Amazon.

While doing so, we wish him, Angelika, and the family, all the best for Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Dear friends,

Twelve years ago I wrote an autobiographical book, titled "sottosoldato" (i.e., under-soldier, the grade I had when I was seven and all my older friends were kings and generals), in Italian. It had good reviews, and I sold some 250 copies, not a bad result for an under-soldier. I also gave many more copies to my Italian-speaking friends. Angelika always wanted me to translate the book into English, but I objected that I am not Shakespeare, and that above all I did not want my friends (not to mention my enemies) to say that I thought I was a Shakespeare. Let them learn Italian. Then I was convinced that I probably had many friends who would not learn Italian but still might be interested to know more about me and my life, and so I now have translated the book. It is called "under-soldier" and it has been just published by Authorhouse, the print-on-demand company that already published "sottosoldato." Under-soldier is the story of my life, from my birth in Venice in 1932 to the year 2000. It covers my family, my youth, my work at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, my time as an Italian diplomat and my nine years with UNICEF plus my eight months at the United Nations. It brings back a lot of memories, and some of you might even have shared some of them. If you were interested, you could find something more, including the first six pages of the book as an apertif, and other excerpts chosen at random that vary day by day, if you go to www.amazon.com or www.amazon.com.uk and "Look Inside" the book and also go to "Surprise Me!" (Amazon is really very generous!) Should you be very adventurous you might even decide to buy it, as a paperback or an eBook. Then you might want to tell me what you have thought of it. To whet your appetite, if you were still interested after exploring Amazon, I am attaching the last chapter. Enjoy! And please accept my apologies if I have bothered you, as well as my best wishes for the holidays and a beautiful, healthy and above all peaceful New Year.

A Sample:

When I was a child, I sometimes wondered if I would ever live to the year 2000. I would be 67, quite old, who knew if I would ever make it? And then it would, as Gozzano wrote, be the moment of "the horrid old age of false teeth and dyed hair." Instead I got there and the teeth are almost all "real" (I do not even, thanks to modern porcelain techniques, have the "golden smile" which my father would exhibit, only at my request), the hair is white but is mine, the looks are decent and more or less everything works. If I wanted to make an assessment of my life, this could perhaps suffice to make it acceptable.

To dig a bit more (Angelika will be happy), I believe that my early condition of an under-soldier may have been the key to reasonable happiness in every domain. Angelika abhors the German way of saying "man muss sich begnugen," we must be content with what we have. But indeed we must be able to be content, to know how to find the silver lining behind every cloud, not to be in a hurry, enjoy the passing moment, learn from one's mistakes, reach out to others and especially not put on airs and not think of having "power" to defend; power which is never sweet when one has it or thinks one has it, because one is afraid of losing it, and never so bitter as when it is lost.

I worked hard because my parents raised me with the sense of duty but I was not a "workaholic," as I have demonstrated by not doing anything, in utmost serentiy, since my retirement. I have never yielded on principles and have never run after the powerful, and have all the same been able to have beautiful jobs, and now even have the "feather in my cap," of the grade of ambassador (even if only on an honorary basis and, as it were, with a small "a" compared to many "Important" Ambassadors). But I was not like the young diplomat to whom the blue-haired fairy gives the ball of yarn of his life, and he pulls it faster and faster, for ever more prestigious positions, until the ball is finished and nothing is left; instead I have many extraordinary memories, of moments big and small, important and not, far and near, all precious because I lived them, and then remembered them, one by one. I have naturally made many mistakes but I tried not to persevere, but to analyze then and, once recognized, to learn from them. I was often stubborn and uncompromising but not out of hubris, rather out of passion and impatience, which also are sins but (I hope) not capital ones, because they are sins of generosity, not greed. I have been able to change my mind, for example taking the diplomatic examination after shouting over the rooftops that diplomats are all idiots: forty years later, it is a profession that I would try again, because it is an intelligent and positive way to seek peace, to settle differences, to see the reasons of others. I have also been able to go and do a different job, like when I went to UNICEF to catch butterflies (as a former colleague of mine said, not very gently). If ever one day St. Peter will ask me what I did that was good, I will tell him of the seduction of Francesco Forte and the money for immunization, which has saved millions of lives and helped improve this difficult world.

I do not know if I have "served the Lord," but I tried to do it "in laetitia," and I'm grateful to Him for having given me extraordinary parents, an extraordinary wife, a daughter who also is extraordinary (and for that I am also grateful to her mother, without whom I would not have had her), a beautiful and interesting life and the ability to appreciate its true value, and be grateful.

Now I have even written a book! Really I cannot complain.