Solitudine non è essere soli, è amare gli altri inutilmente.
(Loneliness is not being alone, it’s loving the of others in vain.)
(August 4, 1938 – March 4, 2001) Italy
Poet, art critic, journalist
The gay poet Mario Stefani, was born in Venice; a semi-local celebrity and good-hearted neighbor whose mysterious suicide shocked the Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio community in which he lived.
“Anyone who loves Venice, is a true Venetian… even a tourist, but only if the tourist stays long enough to appreciate the city.” So used to say Mario Stefani.
Mario’s poetry is mostly in Italian; his only two collections of Venetian dialect poetry go back to the late sixties, written in the Venetian of those years in a simple style, without any type of linguistic experimentation.
He is quoted in John Berendt’s new book, The City of Falling Angels, which I am currently reading again, as saying “Telling the truth is the most anticonformist act I know.”
About three weeks before Stefani’s death, someone had wrote in red stay paint something on the wooden wall covering a small building site right next to the Rialto bridge: “Solitudine non è essere soli, è amare gli altri inutilmente. Mario Stefani” (Loneliness is not being alone, it’s loving the others in vain). Three weeks later, on a Sunday, when he’d least likely to have been missed, he hung himself in his kitchen.
Even when we are surrounded by people who love us, we can still feel lonely. This is especially true when we are hiding a part of ourselves. Stefani was an out and proud gay man; however, he was hiding a great sadness behind his ever present smile. So, what I’d like for all of us to do, is tell our friends and loved ones how much we care and love them and that they are not alone. Sometimes we just need to hear that.