1967 · Tiepolo and happiness

He left the school of the Teatro Stabile and went to Rome. Here he worked on the realization, for the painted parts, of Giulio Coltellacci’s costumes for “Il ballo Excelsior” staged by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. In June he left “his” Rome to do his military service. Umbria, where he stayed five months at the artillery school, fascinated him. Autumn in Umbria almost drove him crazy: he was so enchanted by the colours of the fallen leaves in the Umbria wood that he was to say he had met first Leonardo Da Vinci, then Tintoretto and then also Caravaggio and had talked to them of those colours. He now produced some drawings from the brushwood atmosphere acting as a backdrop to metamorphosis of men into trees. He also did many portraits of his fellow-recruits. A higher officer found in his lodging an invented portrait of a nineteenth-century artilleryman and asked him to do others to decorate the headquarters: on that occasion a Calabrian onion seller in a train was to become a nineteenth-century artillery general in Udine. This assignment also allowed him to go out of the barracks in the morning. He saved up all his money to use it as a tip to give to the custodian of the archbishop’s palace. He thus succeeded in staying every morning for a week completely alone with Tiepolo’s frescos. This convinced him he was the happiest military painter in the world. In October, having finished his military service, he returned to Catania but he was thinking about Rome, theatre and cinema as work so he could afford to paint.