Medieval houses at Santa Cecilia, Trastevere, painted by Roesler Franz in 1880 ca.

After some hesitation I had decided in June 2009 to post a few excerpts from the memoirs of Carlo Calcagni, a Roman born almost one and a half century ago, and a person very close to my mother’s mother (her eldest brother actually.)

I here collect all excerpts from Carlo Calcagni’s memoirs translated to English and posted so far at the Man of Roma. Here the collection of the original excerpts in Italian. Each posted excerpt forms a chapter with links to the original version in Italian and to the original posts and theirs discussions.


Carlo Calcagni is a true Roman whose memoirs offer a lively cross-section of the cultural life of Rome spanning from the first half of 1800, at the time of Calcagni’s grandfather, Count Filippo Calcagni, until the All Saints’ day of 1947, the date Carlo finished writing his memoirs.

This work has so far circulated among relatives and friends only. I think nobody was more Romanthan Carlo, a person gifted with intelligence, humour and a good nature typical from here but also peculiar to him alone.

He narrates of a disappeared Rome and vividly depicts the three social milieus that made up the Roman population of his time: the aristocracy (to which he belonged though deprived of financial means,) the generone (a middle class of business people and tenants of the large estates owned by the aristocracy; his wife Bice was from generone) and the popolino or populace (marvellously described by the Roman poet Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli) – he had contact with since his family lived in Trastevere, today a fashionable rione but at his time the slums of the city.


Each chapter has a link to Calcagni’s original text, written in a delightful vintage Italian with a Roman scent. My English translation is inadequate and is a work in progress.

The copyright of these memoirs belongs to the author’s relatives.

15 thoughts on “Carlo Calcagni. Memoirs of Youth, Maturity and Old age. Part 1&2

    1. You are justifiably enamored (and deeply touched) by these memoirs. I have gotten to Chapter Five.

      What impresses and touches me is the sweet detail (the bringing of an egg at his death) that brings animates these stories.

      The natural expression, the observations, the deep deep meaning.

      Makes so much of contemporary memoir seem contrived.
      I’ll be back.


      1. Hi Cheri,

        Carlo belongs to a time past when people had much less than we have today and yet they had more, since life was more meaningful.

        Btw, I found the translation of the text very hard. It will never be good.


    2. I did the same thing on my blog and I finally gave up in frustration and unchecked the block that said “allow likes for this post,” so I would not look like a doofus. WordPress needs to fix that.


        1. If you click Edit on the post and scroll along down the page you will find a box you can un-check about allowing “likes” for the individual post. It removes all the likes, alas. But I did that just because I didn’t want to look too stuck on myself. See, I was too sheepish to admit I did the same thing you did, but now I feel better about it.


  1. looks like a wonderful book, sounds like it is full of charm- love reading memoirs from that time era. There are so many people out there with fabulous life stories to tell. For instance just finished reading Robyn Stecher’s memoir titled, “There’s Something About Daniel.” Stecher is a gifted story teller, as she tells her story of having a son with special needs and the obstacles she faced, while maintaining a career as an executive vice president at Don Buchwald and Associates, Inc., a bi-coastal talent agency. Amazing story. Always looking for great memoirs. Thank you for your suggestion.


  2. I had read Signor Carlo’s memoirs when you first put them on your blog. They are indeed most interesting and it shows so much respect for your mother’s family.


  3. I had to pause after reading the story of the encounter with the Pope. I am beginning to grasp something of what you mean about the Roman essence of character.


    1. Thanks for reading dear Sled. This ‘character’ may sound weird or alien to you people out there, I’m curious about it. Even here, in my country, Rome is either loved or hated, no middle way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s