Santa Fizzarotti Selvaggi (interview): “I will tell you the story of Palazzo Fizzarotti, a treasure trove of knowledge and my family”

EDITORIAL COMMITTEE You often write in our newspaper and we notice more and more that there is talk of Palazzo Fizzarotti and its grandeur. What is your relationship with Emanuele Fizzarotti?

My paternal grandfather named Raffaele and Emanuele were brothers and my father was the one who cared for and kept the family traditions and kept the faith in the examples he received throughout his life and especially as a public administrator. He has kept documents and testimonies. It was no coincidence that he had to clarify in a letter of clarification sent to the Director of “La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno” on 7 February 1995: “Having remained the only direct grandson of Emanuele Fizzarotti, I would like to clarify that my cousins ​​Al “Vittorio were forced to sell the building, which still bears our family name today, in order to meet the various commitments resulting from the closure of the Bank’s three branches.

(Emanuele Fizarotti)

Have you written about your uncle Emanuele and the palace that actually represents a large part of the family?

Of course: I wrote both dissemination pages and articles kindly hosted by “La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno”, as well as a book dedicated to my father (The Man of Magic Hands, Grafischena, 1999) and then republished in 2020, for the occasion 25 years after my father’s death, apparently updated with the title “My father. Angelo Fizzarotti, The Passion for Politics and Music “for the Schena Guys, where some true news is published about both Emanuele Fizzarotti and Palazzo Fizzarotti, which well represent the feeling of family, including my father and mine. But also in the book published by Levante Editori entitled “My soul” (2016) I repeat what I always affirmed because it was heard and experienced in the first person and read in the documents in my possession.

(Aldo Moro and Angelo Fizzarotti, always friends, on the day of the founding of the Fuci in Bari)

Have others written about your uncle and paternal family?

Yes, two dissertations have been prepared, one of which by the young Antonio Desiati. Dr. Desiatis used both what I kept meticulously and a serious archival research. The story of Banca Fizzarotti as a pioneering model in other university works was also analyzed.

(Angelo Fizzarotti and Carmelina on their honeymoon in Rome with Aunt Mattia, widow of Emanuele Fizzarotti and Countess Mazzitelli and her husband)

Why did his ancestors want to build this mansion in Venetian Gothic style and so luxurious?

There are many reasons but the ones that seem worth noting to me are the following. They were friends of King Nikolaos of Montenegro and therefore had relations with the House of Savoy. The name of the architect Corradini comes from these acquaintances and I must immediately clarify that Queen Elena on the occasion of the cut was not a guest at the Palazzo Fizzarotti but, from what was heard in the family, in many other cases. Unfortunately, during one of my rare tours, attendees may have misunderstood as I may not have been exhausted.
One of Emanuele’s sons married Countess Adelina Mazzitelli, the sons of a general in His Majesty’s Army Corps. My father and mother were his honeymoon guests and Emanuele’s widow, Aunt Mattia, was staying at Adelina’s house. It was my father who then took care of the sale of the family tomb that the Resta family bought. I have seen all this.
Corradini and Bernich fully interpreted thought and the same family history in interaction with the history of our country and the Mediterranean.
Emanuele Fizzarotti was truly a brilliant man who loved Puglia and the two cities of Bari and Lecce. The first of adoption and the second of birth. This is the reason for the two rounds on the facade along with two other rounds of which the first “Inter flammas vivit” refers to the immortal spirit of love and the second is supposed to be a family emblem (sorry I see it everywhere without much meaning: it’s definitely part of the architecture but nothing else …) says exactly “Quamquam fractae vulnerant”. This is a very serious warning. Man’s actions, even after the inevitable death, continue to hurt: hence an invitation to moral behavior in every moment of existence.
But I still want to clarify that the brother of Emanuele’s mother and his siblings, including my grandfather Raffaele, referring to my immediate great-grandmother Recommends Corallo, was the well-known, in Lecce, Mons Luigi Corallo who was always considered . .
As you can see, the stories that are sometimes told are baseless. I remember my mother, even in her old age, but very clear, had to scold in writing some people who told the story in a completely distorted way.

(The Palazzo Fizzarotti in its early days)

Many things are written about this magnificent palace with references to the interior and beyond. What can you tell me?

I read, unfortunately, all this and with sadness I see how it is possible not to understand the desire for knowledge that has always enlivened Emanuele, as well as my father and me, and certainly other family members, confusing the speeches that become misleading.
But let us look at things carefully: first of all it is necessary to clarify that the term introspection means nothing occult or anything other than the search for what is universal hidden in the symbols and metaphors of our human life. C. Jung was a teacher in this. It is obvious that the number three that appears in the Palace (divided into three parts, the entrance, three floors of the house, three reception rooms that communicate with each other, etc., can be associated with divine perfection according to our culture. Virgil’s words are engraved in the Sala delle Arti e dei Mestieri invite to the love that conquers everything (Amor vincit omnia); references to Father Dante’s Divine Comedy (let us not forget that Dante is still mentioned this year) mean to see the stars again, he must enter his innermost hell and be purified, a kind of purification.
We are really sorry to talk about this wonderful architectural work as a temple of other aspects of life. Of course I understand that at this age everything is a game but only the confirmation of the truth of things is good for everyone.
Sometimes I have to honestly say that all this makes me bitter. Uncle Emanuele and his whole family (sisters and brothers) were liberal Catholics. It is no coincidence that in the church of San Giuseppe there is a representation of the Virgin Mary and the Infant in the right corridor and the family core of the uncle in prayer and the family palace in the background.

(Palazzo Fizzarotti)

Who were the artists involved in decorating the rooms?

Many artists. There was also a Circle for Artists: Rega, Favia and I have often heard the name Prayer in the family and Montrone, the candle painter. The workers came from Ravenna but also from Montenegro.

(Vintage document)

Why the Venetian Gothic style?

It is a family from Spain with all the Moorish memories that apparently emerge in the architecture, but Bari’s connection to Venice was emphasized so much by Corandini that he represents it on a canvas he painted Bari’s liberation from the Saracens. Doge Orseolo II. A decorative painting that does not intend to become a work of art and is located in the main hall which was the ballroom and party. In the same room there is another painting by Corradini himself depicting the wedding procession of Frederick II and his very young wife Jolanda di Brienne, daughter of the King of Jerusalem. But it’s not just that: Uncle Emanuele accepted and signed the Standard Oil Company’s appointment as General Manager for the entire Mezzogiorno during a meeting at the Danieli Hotel in Venice. According to my father’s stories, he seems to have become a credible Rockefeller.

(The family seal belonging to Santa Fizzarotti Selvaggi)

And what do the symbols really mean there?

They are the universal symbols of humanity. Nothing else. Hermes, who is represented on the first floor entrance floor, has a double value: cunning and intelligence, but also a warning about the scams that often lurk in the financial and commercial world. This symbol has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by some. In the rococo room, the room with the roses, for example where the floor reproduces a similar one found in the palace of Versailles, “Platonic or other loves” have never been completed, as I sometimes seemed to hear, hoping I had misunderstood: it was merely a tribute to France with which Emanuele had an employment relationship to the point that he was awarded the high honor of the Legion of Honor. In that living room the aunts, whom I knew mainly from personal photographic documentation, were visited by the ladies of the town. There is an emblematic article of a tea party organized at Fizzarotti’s house. It is no coincidence that in those rooms the reception was held on the occasion of the inauguration of the University in the presence of Prof. Nicola Pende, the well-known endocrinologist. It was Emanuele himself who had fought, along with others, for the University of Bari. What about the room with a fireplace? No secret meeting place but space for programs and proposals, discussions and studies for the city that looked to the East, that is, to the East and nothing else. The wooden floor reproduces a story of life story.

(The letter mentioned in the interview)

Do you know of any Institution that bears your name?

I learned of the existence of this Foundation by chance. I had heard superficially about an idea to start something, maybe a club but definitely not about an Institution that bears the surname of Uncle Emanuele and mine as well. Personally, I have never given any written or oral consent. On the other hand, how could I? I also work in the arts and culture and would never confuse my work with others, creating possible misunderstandings. Of course, all this means recognizing the value of the family, but the use of a surname that is not related to Palazzo, for example, leaves me thinking. I reserve the right to verify any case regarding the use of the surname. And of course I make it clear here that I distance myself from this “Foundation” that has nothing to do with me.

Do you just feel like you can verify all of this?

I like to do it because it was my father who watched all the events of the aunts and I, the custodian of documents and history, as well as known for years in artistic and cultural settings.

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