As my father explained to me while driving through the countryside that afternoon, the name Carlo is simply yet another variation of the Old Germanic "Karla", meaning "free man".
Father adored Anglo-Saxon culture, though he was more impressed with the Saxon than the Anglo. In fact, his not particularly logical belief was that the British were the real Nazis, which was irrefutably proven by them winning the war. "After all, weren't they the ones who defeated their all-too sentimental German cousins?" he asked me, nodding as he pressed along the hillside road on our grind up into the mountains.
He has named me after his own father — a silent, enigmatic man who spent a good part of his twenties fighting the First World War. Grandpa Carlo was an Alpino, taxed with the special task of keeping the higher altitudes safe from the enemy. His patriotic spirit was evidently profound, because a few years later, he shipped out again, this time to the ill-fated war in Abyssinia, sprung from the delusional colonialist dreams of "il Duce" Mussolini. Capt. Carlo was elected mayor of Valdagno. Yet, like me, he was of the peripatetic sort and as soon as possible set off again, this time straight to the battlefields of World War II.
Thus Grandpa fought in three international wars. His son, my peculiar father, was left only with the war against traffic.
"The tricolore is the most beautiful flag of them all!" dad screamed, downshifting explosively as the mountain road steepened. "That's the flag we want! Freedom is what we want! Free-ee-eedom! Free-ee-eedom!" he sang and then, as we continued to climb, he suddenly stopped singing, grunted, looked outside and barked at the windscreen: "What the hell are all these people doing all day long? Look at all those cars blocking the way! What are they driving around for? They're stinking up the air all the way to Heaven..." He ripped a Kleenex into two pieces and jammed them up his nostrils, the better to filter the pollution. The torn ends stuck out like the white-hot edges of the holy fire burning in his brain. "Have they got nothing better to do? All these day trippers should stay home where they belong. Unfortunately this damned idiocy of a de-mo-cra-cy," he pronounced the word with a sneer, "has made it mandatory for them to waste their time and money on cheap plastic Sunday tables, where they eat their cheap roadside Sunday lunches, sitting on their cheap plastic folding Sunday chairs."
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