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Five years, three months and eight days of passion, risks, picaresque adventures and razor-edge decisions. He could be a secret agent, he’s so good at getting close to you without being seen. His smile slight, but always courteous. Eyes glittering with intelligence, but lowered out of modesty. His measured step hides an enormous capacity for work, both physical and mental.

He lives concealed under the identity of a loyal servant of the state. It goes without saying that he’s really a superintendent of artistic heritage. He’s concerned with art, and stays on the margins of political decisions. He’s correct. Scrupulous.

A lovely family, to whom he tries to return every night.

A beautiful wife, to whom he gives a bunch of violets on the first day of spring every year, one of many kindnesses. Two little girls who shouldn’t hear talk of work, but be happy and good.

Under this appearance of everyday normality hides Pasquale Rotondi, the man who saved almost 10,000 highly valuable works of Italian art from Nazi brutality and destruction during the war. And all in the utmost secrecy. A man who was capable of taking extremely difficult decisions, sometimes disobeying his superiors’ orders and placing himself and his family in danger.

It’s 8th September 1943. The government is crumbling. The Republic of Salò is proclaimed. The ministers leave Rome. There’s nobody left to give clear orders, and there are those who give irresponsible orders which are counter to the interests of the citizens and therefore the country.

And it’s here that Rotondi, obeying only his moral conscience and his sense of responsibility, becomes a hero. It’s because of him that the Nazis were unable to get their hands on works by Giorgione, Tintoretto, Piero della Francesca, Lotto, Mantegna, Donatello, Correggio, Caravaggio, Tiepolo and many other masterpieces in Marche, Veneto and Lombardy, Rome and Naples.

Meanwhile, in Florence and the rest of Italy, they managed to plunder the museums, and their pillage has not yet fully healed. Many works disappeared forever.

This is an adventure story set in wonderful places (the Ducal Palace in Urbino, Sassocorvaro Fortress, the residence of the Princes of Carpegna), with immensely valuable works saved by a handful of people with no money and no equipment.

Only the intelligence and organisational ability of a man like Rotondi could do it, in the face of everything and everyone.

It’s a story that gives us courage, makes us reflect on the meaning of the word responsibility, and takes us on a breathtaking story that would make an amazing film.

While we’re waiting…I’ll tell it to you».

Laura Curino