Written by Janice L Blixt
In David’s book The Master Of Verona, the title ‘Count’ is reserved for the villain, the historical Count of San Bonifacio. But if when David mentions the Count to me, I respond with a smile and a joke about pouring coffee.
David and I got married in 2002. Our honeymoon also served as a research trip for him. Of the three months we spent touring Europe, starting in Greece and ending in London, fully a month was spent in Italy. Of that month, a week was spent in Verona. Thanks to the advice of a friend, photo-journalist David Turnley, he’d been in contact with Antonella Leonardo, an assistant minister of culture. She arranged every meeting we had in Verona. It was June, and Italy was experiencing a major heat wave, so there were a lot of dinners.
The first time we met her, she gave us a list of places to go, people to talk to, and, in passing, handed David a card saying, “And, of course, you’d like to talk to the Count of Serego-Alighieri. He still lives on the estate purchased by Dante’s son.”
Well, yes… of course we would… ummm… wow… the Count has a card. Ok.
So we sat on the bed in our hotel room debating just what one should say to a Count when one calls to set up a chat. Finally deciding our natural paralysis was a bit ridiculous, David, in a burst of confidence and devil-may-care energy, called the number we had been given… and reached the Count’s teenaged daughter. “Pronto.”
David said something like, “I’m looking for the, uh, Count?”
“My father isn’t here. Leave your name and he’ll ring you back.”
Minutes later the phone trilled, and I leapt for it. “Hello?”
“Hello. This is the Count Serego-Alighieri.”
“Hi! Um, my name is David Blixt. I’m writing a book about Shakespeare and Dante, and one of the main characters is Dante’s son, Pietro. I was, ah, wondering if I could come out and — speak to you.”
“How long are you in Verona?”
“Come up tomorrow morning. 10 o’clock. Yes?”
“Yes! We’ll be there!”
“Ring the bell.”
That night, David and I had a wonderful dinner with a couple of college professors, true academics and Marxists to the core. The meal was lovely — other than the argument we had when we mentioned our next day’s…