Monday, March 28, 2011

Gangster's Lover, Bishop's Mistress

(translated from Part I

Mid-seventies, early eighties, Italy was a powder keg. The laboratory of the modern world. The cultural and political vanguard. Cold War, the years of gunfire. Palestinians and Israelis, the CIA and the KGB, the Red Brigades, and the black terror. The Communists making deals with Christian Democrats. The Sicilian Mafia pumping heroin and cocaine into the streets. Pasolini murdered in Ostia. Pope John Paul II, with Opus Dei, preparing the imminent collapse of the Soviet bloc. Aldo Moro kidnapped and killed. The massacre at the Bologna station. Andreotti, “El Divo”, supposedly kissing Toto Reiina, the bloodthirsty Mafia boss. Sordi and Gassman, Mastroianni, Fellini and Antonioni. Celentano and Archbishop Paul Marcinkus bringing financial joy to the Holy See. The collapse of Banco Ambrosiano. The murder of Roberto Calvi (Blackfriars Bridge, London). And that of Michele Sindona, banker to the Cosa Nostra, a little poison in the coffee.

Thirty years later and almost all those dark mysteries remain just that: mysteries. Or rather, secrets that were not revealed. Crimes, often very serious, for which the culprits have never paid, and never will. “A country without truth,” said Leonardo Sciascia. A black hole we would say today.

Four years ago, out of that hole, and in a most unexpected way, on an Italian TV show “Who knows Where”, returned a woman who knew those crazy and bloody years inside and out. Her name is Sabrina Minardi. Today she is 50. She was from a poor family, born in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood. She was attractive but not outstanding, not beautiful enough to become an actress. But she did become a prostitute. Pretty enough to become a high class escort.

Through her activities she came to know closely, sometimes too closely, many of the outstanding figures of those bloody years. She committed crimes; she witnessed them; she kept quiet; she used drugs; made tons of money, and squandered it; buried her friends, and then disappeared.

Her life, like many Italian youths of that period, started with promise and ended up hellishly. At 19, on June 26, 1979, she married the soccer star Bruno Giordano. Off the playing field, many of the players identified with the fascist thugs, and some carried guns and knives. Drunkenness was common, as were brawls. On the field they acted the same, bringing down anything standing before them.

Her relationship with her nasty husband of 23, who was worshiped by half of Rome did not last long. After two years their daughter Velentina was born, who is now 28. Soon she got sick of seeing him appearing in the press with actresses. They separated, but Minardi could not longer live without danger, luxury and champagne. Soon she met the man who would be her most ardent lover, Enrico de Pedis, better known as Renatino. He was one of the three bosses of the Magliana family, the gang that dominated Rome for almost a decade.

Now, after 25 years in hiding as a fugitive from justice (arrested for helping Renatino escape), she is back and talking. But she won't tell all, according to journalist Rafaella Notariale, the co-author of Minardi's memoir, “Criminal Secret, the True History of the Magliana Gang.” Notariale is the one who brought Minardi fame with a TV interview in 2006. She says she received an unexpected call from Minardi in October 2009, saying she wished to continue talking.

Through her legendary sheets had passed soccer stars, ministers, bishops, cardinals, mobsters, millionaires, police, spies, terrorists. Minardi, like De Pedis, showed up in all kinds of places, not least St. Peter's Square. Calvi, president of the Banco Ambrosiano, was crazy about her. Archbishop Marcinkus was not far behind. On page 114 of the book, Minardi claims to have slept with “God's Banker” several times. “You have no idea how many girls were brought to the Archbishop.”

Some Italian news media say Minardi has broken her silence because she needs money, and is cooperating with authorities to help her own legal problems. Notariale says she has never asked for money, that she is ill, that one of her arms is dysfunctional from a car accident, she has a history of drug abuse with a judicial sentence reduced to 6 months of mandatory treatment, and is trying to come to peace with herself and her past.

Minardi has been working actively with the authorities for some months and has become a star witness for Rome's prosecutor. Her cooperation seems to be crucial for clarifying one of those unsolved mysteries, perhaps the darkest of them all: the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican citizen, and daughter of a church official, who disappeared on June 22, 1983, when she was 15.

(tune in for the next disturbing installment)

Posted for Hos


rwahrens said...

Excellent! This will be a super installment series, and I can't wait for #2...

Leah Williams said...

Actually, the photo is of journalist Rafaella Notariale.

Don Wharton said...

The photo has be swapped out for the real Sabrina. The prior one was apparently the author who interviewed Sabrina Minardi and put the results into book form.