Church of Santa Maria di Plestia, Serravalle del Chienti. Click for credits

Second excerpt from the memoirs of Carlo Calcagni, a true Roman born almost one and a half century ago. Read the original version in Italian.

My family was then very big: 6 beefy children who needed so many things to grow up – food, clothes, shoes, manners and education. But, if as far as birth, parentage and social condition, my father was certainly above the average, high above it, as for financial resources he was really deprived of everything except the bare – almost too bare – minimum necessary for life. Why? How? I don’t know well because they never told me, my father always tried to pass over the subject.

A Noble Guard of the VaticanIn ancient days the family had lands in Velletri, where in the proximity to that town a hill exists that bears yet the name of Colle Calcagni and a palace in Rome near piazza Nicosia, the respectable and beautiful block which is now the Cardelli palace. My grandfather, count Filippo Calcagni, engineer, had been Noble Guard of His Holiness [see a noble guard on the left.] One day he resigned from the Corps and undertook the free career becoming among the rest engineer of the SS Palaces. When Gregory XVI [Pope from 1831 to 1846, MoR] went on a trip about the provinces of his State, the Palace engineer was entrusted to inspect the roads that the Pope would have to cover.

On the long slope which from Serravalle del Chienti goes downward to Tolentino my grandfather had a deadly coach accident. The horse took to flight down the hill. Two were on the coach, one kept himself glued to the carriage, paralysed by fright; my grandfather instead trying to save himself jumped out to the ground, hit his head and remained senseless. He didn’t die immediately. A few days later, a week perhaps, he passed away in the arms of his wife, who had raced to his bedside, without regaining consciousness.

He is buried in the church of Serravalle; a big gravestone on the middle of the left-side wall calls to mind the sad event with emphatic style. My grandmother, countess Carlotta Negroni, was just 23-year-old at that time, and she had my 3 year-old dad only and was pregnant of my aunt Maria.

My father therefore did not receive any education from his father and lived between his mother, inconsolable widow, and his sister Maria whom he greatly adored, a well explainable idolatry. As for material means, none, or very little, received from the rich relation, very little indeed I believe, while certain and definite was the very miserable condition of the poor relation, uncomfortable and painful.

Naturally – it is well understandable – all care and moral and material help from the rich relation were provided to the benefit of the female, aunt Maria, very young and very beautiful, while the male, Nino, my father, had to do things himself.

And in fact he did: as soon as he was 19, not having completed his studies at the celebrated Collegio Romano – studies of grammar, rethoric, philosophy and humanities – he applied for joining the Noble Guard Corps of His Holiness. His application was accetped.

[Next time: Calcagni’s Memoirs. Perplexities About the Family Inheritance (3)]

The emblem of the Trastevere rione

Original version in Italian

15 thoughts on “Calcagni. Suddend Death of Granfather. His father is Left to Himself (2)

  1. Your mother had nice relations and most interesting. Will we know more about count Calcagni. To a North American those stories about impoverished nobility have a little unreal flavor that is most romantic and always appealing especially when true stories.


    1. That’s my mother’s mother generation and milieu. Very far away from me as well. They lived in Trastevere, the slums of the city. Division in classes was much felt in XIX century Europe, one reason why we had communism or migration to the New World. This Calcagni was though a great Roman character and his memoirs a gold mine of information about the city life of that time.


  2. @man of roma

    it is really good! And I think you are passionate about these translations and posts as I can see few typos here…
    Which is very uncommon in ur posts


    1. There can be typos and bad English. I’m no mother tongue plus translation is so difficult. I think (hope) here content is what counts, a testimony on Rome the way it was more than a century ago.


  3. Ciao Ho ricevuto il link al tuo blog da mia cugina Manuela, so che avresti piacere di conoscerci, ma ti ho cercato infruttuosamente su Facebook. ho salvato il link del tuo blog. ma non capisco cme mai non sia possibile inserire commenti nella versione italiana nè se ci sia un link per contattarti.
    Attendo tue notizie Ciao Maura


    1. Carissima Maura, non puoi capire il piacere sentire un’altra Calcagni!

      Infatti mi chiedevo dove foste finiti – lo dissi a Manuela al suo primo commento – , visto che Carlo Calcagni non aveva avuto figli, ma Gigi Calcagni invece parecchi (e anche maschi apprendo da Manuela).

      Sono su Facebook come ManofRoma ma lo uso poco.

      Non so che dire, in genere su tutte le parti in Italiano del blog i commenti si sono sempre potuti mettere. Spero non sia una modifica del provider WordPress.

      La e-mail per contattarmi è sulla colonna di destra, e comunque è:

      Spero vivamente che ci sentiremo presto. Sono molto contento!



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