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(Monte del Lago 1854[1] – Rome 1910)
Son of the patriot Giuseppe and of the countess Giuseppina Becherucci, Guido studied first in Perugia, then he attended the Law Faculty in Bologna. He never got his degree although he achieved, with the highest mark, all of the eight exams he did.

Later he focused on literary studies and German language: when he was young he translated and commented on Van Plener’s Storia della legislazione inglese sulle fabbriche showing great proficiency and depth of judgement[2], and wrote about Ernesto Renan[3].

His political-administrative activity started early: in 1876 was appointed supervisor of the schools in San Feliciano and Monte Fontegiano, two years later he became councilman of Magione. In 1879, succeeding the baron Giuseppe Danzetta Alfani, he became part of Provincial Council and the following year he was asked to preside over the Congregation of Charity of Magione. At this time, already dense with activities, he began to collaborate with certain local periodicals such as «L’Unione Liberale» and «La Favilla»: his way of writing was «original, strict, very effective, the thought is clearly, no frills, mirrored in it, concise, without emptiness»[4]. In 1884 he obtained the delegation at the Administrative Commission of the University of Perugia from the Provincial Council. He held this office for the whole life. In 1885 he founded in Perugia the People’s Bank and the following year he was elected for the first time at the Chamber of Deputies. In 1896, thanks to his appointment of President of the Consortium for the Recovery of the Trasimeno Lake, he inaugurated the works for the new effluent. The 14th September 1897 he was elected President of the Provincial Council. He held this task for his whole life.

But not only local or national issues increased the thickness of his public figure. In 1899 he is sent as an Italian Plenipotentiary at the Peace Conference in The Hague and the following year is Undersecretary for Finance in the Gabinetto Saracco. In May 1906 he became Undersecretary for Foreign affairs during the government of Giolitti and the following year he represented again Italy at the second Peace Conference in The Hague[5]

He recognized in the poet Vittoria Aganoor, his life partner, his perfect completion: a woman with a strong character, strenghtened by great ideals, by a fervid intellect and by the goodness of her heart. Their union represented «the intimate fusion of the complex discretions of two exalted souls»[6] and that is why he couldn’t find enough energies and reason to outlive her. In May 7, 1910, following the news of Vittoria’s death, Guido committed suicide by shooting himself through a temple. This was the last shout of a wounded lion[7].


[1]The birth date has been recently corrected by the studies published in M. Chierico, Guido Pompilj statista del lago, Perugia, s.n., 1996, pp. 13-14.
[2]E. van Plener, Storia della legislazione inglese sulle fabbriche, Imola, Galeati, 1876.
[3]G. Pompilj, L’eau de jouvence di Ernesto Renan, Perugia, Boncompagni, 1881.
[4]G. Muzzioli, Guido Pompilj e Vittoria Aganoor Pompilj. Commemorazione popolare, Perugia, Guerra, 1910, p. 6.
[5]The informations on the tasks performed by da Guido Pompilj are taken from M. Chierico, cit.
[6]G. Muzzioli, cit., p. 22.
[7]Pompilj ordered the engraving of the motto “Ut Leo” in his villa in “Monte del Lago” that represented the brevity of his life in all its essence.

 

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It was the end of 1900 when an accidental meeting in Venice would change, oversetting them, the poetress Vittoria Aganoor and Umbrian parlamentarian Guido Pompilj’s solitary existence. 

villa

Villa Pompilj, pic by Giovanni Maw

 

A Scornful Temper

Vittoria was immediately struck by this man she would call «the strong soldier for Good», in fact in him she saw «a clear ethical dimension connected to a humanitarian and solidarity based impulse which had been previously unknown to her».[1] At the time, Guido held the position of Undersecretary of the Ministry for Finance in the 1st Saracco Government. As will be described by his close friend, Giuseppe Marinelli, Guido had an «undemostrative character, hard, undeterred, wanting in conciliating sentiment, had an aim in view, careless of the obstacles, and despising whoever blocked his way. He didn’t bend before anyone’s wishes, that’s why he had many opponents who, whilst admiring his lively mind, could not explain his indomable and contemptuous attitude».[2] Still, in private he was capable of showing «a sweet lovingness, almost of a childish kind”; furthermore, his conversation was “witty and cheerful, never mordant or sarcastic, always circumspect and enthusiast together».[3]

Deep Black Eyes

Vittoria, then forty-five-year old, started writing to Guido and «pouring out all of […] herself into the letters – emotions, longings, activities and concerns – getting so to scrape Pompilj’s laconic discretion».[4] Actually, the forty-six-year old Guido, bound up in his own policy preoccupations, didn’t think to share the rest of his life with a woman anymore. Though, soon this woman to whom «nobody who had nearly approached her would have been able to avoid the irresistible charm radiated by her small body all grace and lightness; by her big dark and deep, passion twinkling, gloom and misty eyes; by her candy and ladylike amiability»[5] won Guido’s heart, so that he started loving her more and more so as to become a single identity.

villa alta

Villa Pompilj, pic by Giovanni Maw

An Abode in Monte del Lago

The letters became increasingly fond and kind up to the one of 16 May 1901 where she stood ready to marry him, confident to have found «the perfect companion, who, taking all her soul, would give all his in return, without any restriction or limit».[6] Vittoria, defying conventions, wrote:

«[I] always thought that getting loveless marriage is a shame; maybe it’s false, but this is what I always thought. In the past I had a liking for someone whose body I was merely keen on, but I knew I was charmed by the looks and nothing more, and that their souls and mine were totally different. That, I thought, it’s not the true and full love. Why would I like getting married now? Because it would be the only way to live with You, for You, next to You; because, if there was an alternative way to do this, I wouldn’t ask You… I mean, I would have never asked You to marry [me] […] Know […] that not only I would have left Venice for Rome, but even for Siberia indeed [in order to] live with You and settling for any habit of his».[7] 

In November that year, they got married in Naples and their love became all-absorbing and full, «united in mutual respect, kept together as by common artistic and cultural interests as by an identical appreciation of simple and rural things they could find in the beloved lake Trasimeno»[8] on the which banks they chose to live just married, in that Villa Alta at Monte del Lago, Guido’s birthplace. Vittoria and Guido lived years of an intense and absolute love, as deep as only the blue can be: incomprehensible and impenetrable like the depths of the waters and unbounded like the blue of the skys. Thus when Vittoria died in May 1910, following an ovarian cancer surgery, Guido despairing killed himself leaving the words «I couldn’t, I would not survive without her».[9] 

 


 

[1] A. Chemello, Vittoria Aganoor e il suo mondo, in M. Squadroni (curated by), Vittoria Aganoor e Guido Pompilj. Un romantico e tragico amore di primo Novecento su Lago Trasimeno, [Perugia], Soprintendenza archivistica per l’Umbria, 2010, p. 135.
[2] Quoted from M. Chierico, cit., p. 14.
[3] G. Muzzioli, Guido Pompilj e Vittoria Aganoor Pompilj. Commemorazione popolare, Perugia, Guerra, 1910, p. 5.
[4] P. Pimpinelli, Vittoria Aganoor. La poetessa, in M. Squadroni (curated by), cit., p. 111.
[5] G. Mazzoni, in «La Favilla» fasc. ill. in honour of Vittoria Aganoor (Jul.-Aug. 1910) quoted from L. Grilli, Introduzione, in V. Aganoor Pompilj, Poesie complete, Firenze, Le Monnier, 1912, p. IV.
[6] «La Donna», 20 May 1910, quoted from F. Girolmoni, Il fondo bibliografico Aganoor Pompilj della Biblioteca comunale di Magione, in M. Squadroni (curated by), cit., p. 184.
[7] Letter from Vittoria to Guido Pompilj dated 16 May 1901, quoted from L. Ciani, Aganoor, la brezza e il vento, Nuova S1, Bologna 2004, p. 92.
[8] G. Chiodini, Vittoria e Guido. Un suicidio concordato, in «Il Messaggero Umbria», 23 Apr. 2010.
[9] ASPg, Fondo Aganoor Pompilj. Ada Palmucci, Testamento di Guido Pompilj, 4-5/5/1910.

 

 

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