For our Carlo Spagnolli, from Lia

26 years ago my husband and I were in Ethiopia, in Bonga. I was seriously ill from a bad abdominal typhus and I was about to “pass to a better life”. In a waking moment, I saw before me two deep big blue eyes and a long beard. I thought I was standing in front of St. Peter: it was Doctor Carlo Spagnolli. It saved my life and we became like family. We have traveled a lot and our families have grown up together. We made 5 films, including “The giants of good”, distributed all over the world with the English title “Heroes without Capes”, heroes without capes, just like him. And we shared many battles, carrying out dozens of projects such as the birth of cardiology in Zimbabwe, together with Dr. Bonmassari and others. I remember this in particular, because it was born from his first heart attack: in Harare there was not even an oxygen tank. So, once he recovered, he thought that everyone there they should have had access to a cardiology clinic.

He had at heart the training of African doctors, the growth of an African healthcare. He fought against corruption and raised his voice to defend the most fragile: he did not remain neutral, he always took the side of those at a disadvantage. He was a true “father of Africa”, a point of reference for a multitude of people.

Ci portava a scoprire mondi nascosti…

His generosity was infinite: on his travels his suitcase was like a magician’s top hat, it contained gifts for everyone, and the right gift for each, a mystery never revealed. His enthusiasm for life, curiosity, love, were overwhelming, they infected anyone. Like the day on Lake Victoria, on a small motorboat with her goddaughter Lily Ayarowa (now Ugandan tourism executive): she had then set up a collection center for injured chimpanzees on an islet, a 3-hour journey by water. Carlo wanted at all costs to shoot the sunset in that little paradise and so we went back in the dark, in a water full of strange movements …

He often spoke of the difficulties encountered after his marriage with Angelina, one of the first mixed marriages in Trentino. To celebrate it in Uganda was Father Italo Piffer, who today remembers the races to chase the bull for the banquet, which had fled. A great love theirs, which has overcome discrimination and difficulties, and crowned in their children Elisa, Giovanni and Francesco. On the road he never complained and took us to discover hidden worlds. I saw him being moved several times in the face of others’ suffering. In recent years, weakened, he had contributed to the birth of Aurora Vision, because he believed in the need to communicate solidarity and raise awareness of brotherhood. He didn’t miss a projection and he helped us with important information. Our young collaborators saw in him a North Star.

Carlo era un uomo del futuro, mai rivolto indietro, se non per imparare dalla storia

Carlo Spagnolli was a humanist, a man of immense culture and training in many fields: medicine, politics, history, botany, geology, astronomy, geography. He saved thousands of lives: starting with arrow wounds in Uganda, bullets in Eritrea and AIDS in Zimbabwe. Carlo was a man of the future, never looking back, if not to learn from history: his ecological commitment had started decades ago, with concrete actions such as favoring the birth of various natural parks in Africa.

Carlo was a true missionary, with a journey of profound and never predictable faith; he read all the theology available, attracted by writers like Bonhoeffer. Each poor man was at the center of his attention and his care, for each he reserved a particular word. Carlo was a man of his land, a mountaineer contemplating the mountain, attracted by peaks and rocks: he lit up when he was in Brenta or at the foot of Monte Rosa. Carlo was the most beautiful giant of the good that Trentino has given to the world.


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