Indro from here, Indro from there. According to them, it seems that thousands of people have had great familiarity with the number one in Italian journalism. Maybe, for heaven’s sake. But I beg to doubt it. Also because Montanelli was a man in the hand but, all in all, a loner. If he had really talked amiably with an infinity of his compatriots, he would not have been able to concentrate on what he held most dear: sound readings, the works of a historical nature – and not only – that have left their mark, the main articles and his deadly Countercurrent. I was imbued with an irony – he told me once – that not all readers perceived. Feminists in the first place.
I can say that I have known him well. To such an extent that in the Roman editorial of Newspaper in Piazza di Pietra – a few steps from Piazza Colonna, where it is based The weather, then directed by Gianni Letta, who saw me as a collaborator for 14 years – in Montanelli’s room I typed my first articles for the Newspaper on his typewriter. Which was not the legendary Olivetti Lettera 22 from Milan but a very battered Letter 32.
Montanelli wants to meet me in April 1987. Amintore Fanfani, the Montanelliano Rieccolo Nazionale, had just fallen in Montecitorio without making a turn, aware that the Resurrections follow Lent. Our institutions are what they are and the constitutionalists do not risk ending up in the gardens. Thus, as in the military conscription, Montanelli declares me capable and enlisted. But don’t you cursed Tuscans for nothing. With a slap: You constitutionalists are a bunch of cheaters. Just him, graduated in Law and Cesare Alfieri. And a caress: But at least you make yourself understood. The highest compliments for a great writer and journalist like him. And already my background articles to satisfy.
The next day he puts in my hand a piece of his on The Silences of Mos, scheduled for the following day: a criticism of his friend Spadolini because he had not mentioned constitutional reforms at the republican congress. With a faint voice, I allow myself to observe that the Florentine secretary was the author of the institutional decalogue. An addition that Spadolini sent in jujube broth, grateful to the director above all for remembering the famous decalogue. I go to Milan to sign the contract and it was just before I passed out. I look at the door of his studio, which is always open, and point blank he says: Just you, you have to write me an article on backpackers in Venice. He wanted to see how I was doing. And luckily I passed the exam.
So many memories, so many anecdotes. One day he summons me to Milan and at breakfast with a few close friends he informs us that Franco Cangini, who had just left the Newspaper: So you, Armaroli, are involved in constitutional politics; you, Federico Orlando, of institutional politics (and go and understand the difference…); and you, Scarpino, of internal politics. Three musketeers to replace just one. Once I meet Giovanni Sartori at Newspaper a cordial conversation with the director, who had known him for a lifetime. A little later Montanelli praises Sartori to me with a codicil: Yes, but what a character !. Obviously, when I returned to Florence, the scene repeats itself: with reversed parts. While I was calling the director from the Sartori house overlooking Ponte Vecchio to tell him that I had just had a photo of Vanni for my interview, my mother, Mrs. Titina, a woman of great charm even in old age, takes the microphone from my hand and exclaims: Indrino, my Indrino !. And to Nilde Iotti, amazed that there was a statuette of Stalin on the director’s desk, a mocking Montanelli puts it this way: I have never known anyone who killed as many Communists as Stalin. He was the most approachable man in the world and was reluctantly absent. Because he feared that without him the Newspaper was worse. But he feared even more, a little neurotic as he was, that he would be better off without him.
Speaking of absences, Montanelli was forced for some time to abandon his paper creature to hospitalize due to his recurrent depressions in the Pisan clinic of Professor Cassano, a luminary. And his thoughts immediately ran to the beloved Controcorrente. What to do? He thus instructed his crew to handle it alone. The undersigned also gave his modest contribution for the occasion. And the most successful Countercurrent was of the following tenor: It is not clear why Achille Occhetto feels the overwhelming need to launch a shadow government to oppose a shadow of government. The shadow of government, needless to say, was one of the many Andreotti ministries. Which to survive the shadow government set up by the character who liquidated the PCI in Bolognina fashion. The beauty that in Montecitorio the liberal Alfredo Biondi suspends his speech to read my Countercurrent. With, verbatim, this footnote: Here is the authentic Montanelli !.
When needed, his tongue was as sharp as his pen. At a Milanese conference of historians, while a leading professor was making his speech, Montanelli whispers to me: Can you hear it? Speak as he writes. And it wasn’t a compliment.
In love with the Risorgimento, which – he said – may not have been great but did the Italians, Montanelli with enormous regret doubted that the beautiful country had a future. He used to say: the English are English, the French are French, the Germans are German, while we are a bunch of stateless people, without roots, without a homeland, without a past and with an uncertain future. Contemporary, as Ugo Ojetti claimed, and nothing more. In fact, time, what a gentleman, has proved him more and more right. In recent days, true, the Tricolore has been waved. But a Tricolore that represents a tribute to Italy’s ball. The only one considered worthy of praise.
In one of his rooms published in the Corriere della Sera of February 1, 2001, to a letter of mine in which I noted with some amazement that the Minister of Public Education Tullio De Mauro invited us to study Arabic just when Italian for many Arabs, Montanelli replied as follows: After having for some years he preached that the School (I, the son of a principal, cannot name it without a capital letter) should be, for Italy, problem number 1, even more urgent than that of public order, I have stopped take care of it so as not to get bad blood, that is, worse than usual. Cossiga wanted to make him a senator for life. But he gave up because he wanted to remain only a journalist after all.