(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, as saying "Telling the truth is the most anticonformist act I know."
It seems that the suicide of this beloved gay local television commentator and poet, was caused by Mario's sad obsession with a married grocer.
Portrait by: Luigi Voltolina, 1985
We received from one of our readers:
I was living in Venice at the time it happened, and on my daily way to university I always came past a small building site right next to the Rialto bridge, which was covered by a wooden wall. One day, maybe three weeks before Stefani's death, I saw that someone had written something on the wall in red spray paint: "Solitudine non è essere soli, è amare gli altri inutilmente. Mario Stefani" (Loneliness is not being alone, it's loving the others in vain). I liked these sad words very much, took a picture (which I'll attach to this mail), wondered who this Mario Stefani was, but did not start any further inquiry.
Three weeks later, I came across a poster pinned on a wall near my home where someone announced an "evening of remembrance" for Mario Stefani. I thought about attending to find out more, thinking that it might be due to a death anniversary of this obviously renown author, but forgot about it, until I met a friend two days later. This friend happened to live a few doors apart from Mario Stefani and had been there when the police had found him hung in his flat earlier that week. You can tell I was shocked when I found out in this strange way who Mario Stefani was. I later found an article about him in a newspaper, where they said that the writing on the wall had actually been written by himself, obviously in a state of depression leading to his suicide.
That was in 2001, and I still keep remembering it every now and then!
Best wishes from Berlin,