Modern fairy tale

The story of Giorgio Angelotti, a retired professor who offered 500 euros from his pension to be adopted as a grandfather, illustrates in all its melancholy the problem of the aged and the dissolution of the family in Italy today. It could have formed the plot of a novel; Angelotti’s wife died 20 years ago, but he still calls out her name in the empty home, out of habit. His daughter last telephoned him at Easter from Kabul, where she was taking part in a voluntary work program. It could be a modern fairy tale, since businessmen, pop stars and lonely old women offered to take in the elderly professor, who lives alone with seven cats in a village outside Rome. He eventually chose a woman with a sweet voice, the mother of a teenager he will teach Latin to. He just wants a daughter to be kind to him, and a grandson. Angelotti, who said that days went by when he did not exchange a single word with another human being, was amazed at the avalanche of responses to his classified ad, which came from all over the world, from Colombia to New Zealand, Britain and Canada. It showed that there are romantic alternatives to homes for the aged, and spontaneous ways to deal with the shortcomings of social policy. There are times when the community can and should take the place of the nebulous, abstract state, which does not concern itself with issues such as loneliness.

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