Walter Veltroni, my good cop now solves a mystery from 1944

Here comes the fourth yellow starring Commissioner Buonvino. A story set in Rome and in the past: “We have reduced life to the present, making it frivolous. You need depth, memory gives it'

  walter-veltroni-today-11 Walter Veltroni, author of the mysteries of Commissioner Buonvino

For Walter Veltroni, Villa Borghese, an immense heart-shaped park in the heart of Rome, is a place for the soul but also a laboratory in which to build beauty and recover memory. The founder and former secretary of the Democratic Party, now a successful writer and director, grew up in the neighborhood that runs along part of the Villa. As mayor of Rome, he promoted its recovery and transformation with the opening of cultural spaces in the belief that 'beauty is not for the few'. And when, in 2019, he invented the commissioner Giovanni Buonvino he could only assign him a (non-existent) police station of Villa Borghese. Now comes the fourth chapter of the thriller series in bookstores, Buonvino between love and death (Marsilio), whose plot interweaves the commissioner's ambition and happiness with a bloody episode that actually happened, on May 31, 1944, right in Villa Borghese.

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Veltroni, if you love Villa Borghese so much why do you set heinous crimes there? «I liked the idea of ​​an ecstatic place violated by its opposite, violence. A contrast that has great narrative force».

What did Buonvino do to her, who even in this episode touches happiness without reaching it? «He is somewhat melancholic, ironic, idealistic, a dreamer. But who always has to fight with life, in work, in human relationships. Nothing is given to him. I love him because he is fragile and secure at the same time, capable and exposed. When he seems to be fine with him then there is always something that doesn't work ».

Joke: so he's from the Democratic Party? “I never thought of placing it politically. If anything, he is disillusioned. He doesn't like certain things of the present, vulgarity, even in speaking. He has drawn up a list of 'forbidden words' on the blackboard of the police station, which read 'experiential', 'whole life', 'narration' and other simplifications that poison thinking. He calls that list “the infamous column”.

The previous episode ended with a dream of love shattered by gunshots. This with an event that still shuffles the cards of Buonvino's heart. Will he ever be happy? «It already is: happiness is not the absence of problems but having the tools to counter them. He doesn't get knocked down, he doesn't give up and he doesn't get depressed. He understands, weaves, he doesn't hate. He is a reasoner ».

In spite of the profession, also a benevolent. Does the good cop work better than the bad one? «From Antonio Manganelli, the former Chief of Police to whom I dedicated the first of Buonvino's novels, to Franco Gabrielli and Lamberto Giannini, I have always known people like Buonvino. If I drew inspiration, I drew it from them: meek, cultured, curious people, with a high sense of institutions. Being a policeman does not coincide with being a cop but with defending the laws of the state'.

In the plot, a true story that he discovered on the Rome open city Facebook group. But wasn't social media the place where everything gets lost? “The only reason I waste time on social media is to find stories: there is news there that would have no place anywhere else or in any newspaper. There are groups that cultivate memory through specific passions, about anything. From one point of view this is reassuring, from the other it gives the impression that there is nothing more to look for».

Buonvino's story touches on the last years of the war, already protagonists of his novel The choice . Why does he always come back? “Because we removed them. After the Liberation, the country needed to turn the page. But in doing so he simplified the story of the years between '43 and '45. That was the moment in which everyone had to choose which side to take. A choice that has something tragic: many honestly believed in fascism and suddenly realized what it was. Not all of Fascism's consensus was coerced. In those years there is something morbid there. Literally, historically and politically it is very interesting».

What can we say about the story he tells in the book without saying too much about it? «Professor Antonio Areddu told it on Facebook, who gave me the documents on this black market trader, a millestieri like there are many, who set up a fake pharmaceutical company with which he traded in sugar. Four days after the Americans entered Rome, on May 31, 1944, he was shot at dawn in Piazza di Siena, inside Villa Borghese, in the presence of the Quaestor, after a three-day trial, with a section of the special court set up to hoc. An abnormal and inexplicable epilogue that restores the complexity of those years».

How do you recover that complexity? «We have reduced the three-dimensionality of life to the present, cutting off the future because it seems to us a threat and not a possibility, and the past as the past. This has made life frivolous and poisonous. You need depth and that comes from memory. And the awareness that there are times when it is necessary to counter the dominant feelings. Fascism is not 'bad' because of the racial laws of 1938, it is bad from the beginning, because it had the idea of ​​a regime in mind. Freedom shouldn't be taken for granted because there are moments in history when people were willing, as in those years, to give it up in exchange for reassurances'.

Why include the story in an 'escapist' novel? 'Because evasion does not exist, nothing in our world can be separated from the rest: from Sanremo to the Italian comedy, everything intersects, from Buonvino's yellows to war stories'.