An intellectual and two artists
Rome, 1935. A large dining room in an old house. A piano echoes the sounds of one of
Sitting at the table, a 17 year-old boy with color pencils, paint and paper with sketches.
On some of the sheets of paper, paintings in progress. Most are not finished yet, but the
hand that created them surely knows what it is doing.
At the boys side, a
middle-aged man reviews the draft version of a text that he has just finished, and is
supposed to mail by the end of the afternoon.
The man is Francesco Bianco, a writer and international correspondent for Jornal do
Brasil, a newspaper based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The pianist, his wife, is Maria
Bianco-Lanzi who, besides being a piano virtuoso, is a highly educated woman.
The boy involved with paintings and
drawings is their son, Enrico Bianco who, encouraged by his parents, has been studying
drawing and painting since a very early age. His masters included famous names in Italian
art, e.g, Deoclécio Redig de Campos, who was once a director for the Museum of the
He is now a student of Dante Ricci, a former teacher to the Royal family, although not
very famous. Ricci was a very skilled and strict teacher; he passed on to his students not
only art techniques but also the concept of rigid discipline, a required trait for anyone
who intends to take artistic work seriously.
The father gets up and leaves, heading to the post office. The boy, who practices at least
six hours a day, is still absorbed by paints and pencils. In the background, the piano
music fills up the room and inspires the artist.
Adio, Italia mia
Then the piano went silent. Forever. The
Bianco family was living through one of its saddest moments. Growing problems that seemed
unsolvable aggravated the painful loss of the wife and mother.
Francesco Bianco had once been a state representative for the Christian Democratic party.
With the rise of fascism in Italy, he fell into disrepute. Jornal do Brasil, the newspaper
for which he worked, was also experiencing the effects of an increasingly closed political
regimen in Brazil after president Getúlio Vargas took office. As a result, Bianco was
His erudition and extensive personnal relationships in Italy could have assured him a new
job there. However, to work in the press, or in any other communications media, he would
need to have a fascist identification document, which was certainly something for which he
would not, and could not, apply.
Another possible solution would have been to go to Brazil, where he had been in 1920. He
had the promise of a job at Italcable, the telegraph service company that competed with
Western, the American telegraph service provider. But he would need passports, and they
had already been denied to him. Bianco was considered an enemy of the state someone
who was undesirable when nearby and uncontrollable when afar.
Aware of the potential difficulties that
the Bianco family might face, the family doctor, who was also Mussolinis
cardiologist, offered to help. During a routine appointment with the dictator, he began:
«Biancos wife is dead».
«I know », answered the Duce. His tone was cold, but not unfriendly. The physician
risked: «He wants three passports, for him and his two children.»
Again, a deep silence filled the room. Then Mussolini firmly replied: «Tell him to fill
in the papers and I will authorize the issuing of their passports. »
Thus, in the year of 1937, conducted by the forces of destiny, Enrico Bianco arrived in
Rio de Janeiro with his father and sister, and settled for good in Brazil. Months after
his arrival, an encounter would change his life forever.