Playwright, screenwriter, and WVFC board member Elizabeth Hemmerdinger continues her ongoing adventures in filming the Baroness Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimo about her long and accomplished life, particularly her experiences as an adolescent in World War II Milan.

We’ve just returned from a long shoot with the Baroness Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimo at her apartment overlooking the sea in Monte Carlo.

First, we looked with her at the few photos she has of her childhood and teenage years in Milan, during World War II.  These were years of deprivation, fear, and the hard work of surviving in a war-torn nation.

Then we looked at four oversized, leather- bound photo albums of the estate she shared with her husband: more than 100 acres, twenty minutes outside Rome, near Castel Gondolfo, the Pope’s summer residence. The property was a working farm, with cows, at least one bull (at a time), vegetable beds, a beautiful swimming pool, and 5,000 olive trees (so they made their own oil). And a zoo. On the top of a hill sat a wonderful home, a guest house, separate library building, gardens, stone stairs, and manicured gardens.   They married in 1949, and within ten years of hard work that she shared, doing whatever he needed, their company became a multinational business. When he died, after 31 years of marriage, she was devastated. Next month will be the 30th anniversary of his death, and she is still very affected by his loss.

That said, several years after her husband’s death, Mariuccia sold the estate, moved from Rome, and started a new life. Among the things she did was to get a Ph.D. in history in Lausanne, become a member of the Vatican Delegation to the United Nations and join the board of New York University. She bought and renovated a building for NYU and founded Casa Italiana, now an important focal point for the research and promotion of Italian culture in New York.

There’s more to tell, but Anne, Kirsten and I are going for a short walk near our hotel.  None of us has been here before, and we’ve had no time to absorb the feel of Monte Carlo—though is it, without a doubt, a most elegant city. My room is small but beautiful, the walls covered in pale yellow damask. From the window I see the sea and the Casino . . .

Just back from our walk. We have discovered we had different thoughts about the movie we’re making. The wonderful thing about our working relationships—Anne and I have worked on things for more than twenty years, and Kirsten and Anne have worked together for about ten years—is that when we find we are of different minds, we are delighted with the surprise. Sometimes we’re a little wobbly, but confident that this is energy, not tension, that will take us to a more creative solution.

Must shower and primp and meet the others to grab an early dinner. When I made the reservation, the concierge was shocked. Apparently 6:30 is no time to eat in Monaco. It must be nap-time for the locals. But tonight Mariuccia is taking us to the opera, for the opening of Salome. The only way to arrive at the main doors of the opera house is by going through the casino. Marvelous!

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