Interview by Ezio Saini, published in the weekly magazine Oggi (1969)
In these hectic times, we should not be surprised if children meet their “first love” at an age for most of us was that of games and scuffles. Giusva Fioravanti, for example, the popular TV-brat that you will see again in the new TV series The Welcome Family, is also very precocious in the sentimental field: he will just eleven years old at the end of March but he has already “taken a pitch” as they say in Rome, that is, he has fallen in love with Elisabetta Battistoni, a beautiful girl of the same age, blonde, blue eyes, who is contended with him by a twelve-year-old rival, Nicola Salerno. To find out more about the platonic “romantic intrigue” we interviewed Giusva at his family home in the Prati district.
“I’M A PRETTY STRAIGHT YOUNG MAN.”
What’s happening to you, Giusva? Is it really true that, even though you are still almost a child, you have fallen head over a head for a little Roman girl, the daughter of some of your parents friends.”
“Are you kidding? A child me?! But did you know that I’m already in sixth grade? You fools can’t understand the kids of today, who are so quicker than you. In any case, I only talk to journalists about my work, with my mouth sewn shut for everything related to my private life.”
Your reserve is worthy of a Gassman, but your friends have told me a lot of stories about you and your sister Cristina even made me read a page of your diary, in which you wrote: “Elisabetta you are my first true love, a great love even if small in age. One day we will marry as you, Elizabeth, promised me, and I promised you.” At this point, how do we put it?
“Cristina as usual caught me in a trap, but now I’ll tell you how things really went: it was Cristina who introduced me to our friend Elisabetta last may and I, who am a rather straight young man, immediately noticed that Elisabetta is beautiful and nice and I did my best to make our parents friends, so as to facilitate our meetings. As soon as Elisabetta noticed that I had a liking for her, she took the initiative, courting me in a fabulous way. You know, today’s girls are very resourceful, not like in your time. In short, I let myself be conquered. Our friendship made decisive progress last summer in Fregene, where we went on holiday with our families. You know we along on a lot of things. What shall I say to You? I like magazines, stamps, stickers, racing cars, swimming, cycling and maybe, by imitation, she likes them too. In short, maybe it’s true that we’re soul mates, as you say, Matusa. From Fregene I left with my father for Marina di Grosseto, to shoot the first episodes of the new Benvenuti TV series under the guidance of a dear friend of mine, the director Alfredo Giannetti and Elisabetta couldn’t help but join me in company of her mother. You had to see how much fun we had while I was acting on set. In short, Elizabeth, in addition to being my fiancée, is also an admirer of mine.”
Now I understand that you are a little man who does not let himself be picked up by the “girl of the heart”, but would you lie to tell me something about your terrible jealousy caused by the court that your friend Coco Salerno continues to make to Elisabetta?
“You know how it is, Elisabetta is pretty and Coco has a fine eye, he’s a great straight, he knows how to be nice and he’s a bit vain, if he could blow my girlfriend, he’d gloat, In recent days Coco has given a party for his friends in his house, he invited Elisabetta but he forgot about me. Tell me, what was Elisabetta to do? Decline the invitation, of course. Instead, she attended the party, wearing a very elegant dress.; it was brilliant and went into jujube broth for Coco’s compliments. For a few days I refused his company and even denied myself on the phone. The Elisabetta suddenly reappeared in our house and I couldn’t resist, we made peace. Maybe I’m a little weak with her, but the trouble is that as soon as I see her, I feel a wonderful happiness, like I’ve never been before. As for Coco, he’s a rival that doesn’t scare me at all, we’d be missing more!
Elisabetta, smiling and self-confident, enters the playroom of Giusva, Cristina and Cristano (the twins who turned nine last February). The girl would be fourteen years old, although in reality she is only eleven and a half. Born in Rome in September ’57, Elisabetta is only half Italian, on he father’s side, while her mother, Trudi Helmling, passed on the “Viennese pepper” to her.”
Elisabbeta, Giusva claims that you worked hard to “conquer” him, then you suffered his personality, you adapted to his tastes in every field and you became a fanatical devoted admirer of his. What’s true?
“I am pleased, for our quiet life, that Giusva is convinced that I admire him on his knees. What do you want, Giusva already has all the weaknesses of the stars and I would be making a big mistake if I mortified her vanity. But I wouldn’t want to even believe that I his bad taste in the field of pop music. Imagine that Giusva adores Claudio Villa and Milva, that is, the “voices” with the hand on the heart favored by the matusas. I instead love Tom Jones, Patty Pravo, Little Tony and Iva Zanicchi. In short, the singers of young people. You know, I’m a modern little woman, I have my own ideas on any subject, and I never suffer from the old-fashioned opinions of my parents. Giusva, on the other hand, is a submissive who obeys a dictator father with a wand. I don’t blame him because I love him.”
Have you heard Giusva? Would you like to tell me in turn Elisabetta has any weak side?
“What a question! I’m certainly not perfect but Elisabetta has a lot of flaws, which I forgive because she’s my girlfriend. I would say that the biggest problem is this: her parents give her all the wins, because unfortunately Elisabetta is their only daughter. Especially her dad, who is no longer young, is catastrophically yielding to her. It seems to me (as my father says) that this kid of education is wrong and I have the impression that Elisabetta comes up spoiled, a bit know-it-all and despotic. For example, that blessed girl has the urge to argue about things she knows little about, such as music. Let’s leave it at that. However, if one day we are really to get married, Elizabeth will have to become a reasonable and submissive wife. He’s the man who’s got to run the family, isn’t he? My dad always it, and I agree with him on that.”
However, in many Italian families it is now the wife who has taken over the reins as it happened in the first TV series “The Welcome Family”: Marina, your TV-Mother, always kept her husband Alberto in tow, while saving the forms. Will your TV dad be able to take over in the next episodes?
“Alberto, that is, Enrico Maria Salerno, tries, but Marina, played by Valeria Valeri, is on the alert. My TV mom continues to be convinced that the family needs above all the practical common sense of a modern efficient woman like her, so she has no intention of giving up her managerial functions.”
Will we meet new characters in the next show?
“Yes, there are many new characters, and among them the little girl Nives (played by Antonella Pieri), a nine-year-old from Rome): She has the most moving role.”
One last question, Giusva: what was the episode of the new show in which you had the most fun while working on the set?
“All the scenes were shot on the beach in Marina di Grosseto are full of joy and I am convinced that the viewers will have as much fun as we who played them. Of course, it’s Andrea, my character, who gives an overwhelming rhythm to the Benvenuti family’s holidays. Andrea even manages to organize a profitable photographic business: with his Polaroid he portrays the most beautiful girls on the beach and then sells the photos to friends making them pay for them with ice cream, Coca-Cola, tokens for pinball. During that period of the process, I did swimming, skating volleyball, football and acrobatic somersaults on the sand, and all this was regularly compensated, as stipulated in the contract. I’m not a work fanatic, in fact, I wish I could do without it! But I would do a job like this all year round with enthusiasm.”
THIS IS HOW GISUVA GOADS HIS PARENTS
A successful actor on TV, Giusva is also about to be launched as a budding writer: his first book These Blessed Parents is in print. Here are some pages taken from the manuscript:
“Today Mum and Dad had a fight at the table because Dad said the meat was too hard – You don’t know how to shop,” he shouted – “And you get cheated by everyone! These things don’t happen to my mother: you should learn from her. She doesn’t let herself be fooled, She’s a housewife! Mum started crying, then Cristina started crying too, and she is easily moved. I was also sorry to see Mom crying. Of course, the meat was tough, but Dad should be patient if something goes wrong every now and then: Mom has so many things to do! Dad, on the other hand, doesn’t do anything all day: he goes to the office … Well, well… This time Dad didn’t make a good impression!
Cris says: But if Dad’s mom is so good that she can do everything so well, why didn’t Dad marry her? Instead of marrying our mother, who doesn’t know how to do anything? I didn’t have the time to explain to my younger brother that marriage between mother and child is forbidden by law: Otherwise, I think everyone would marry their mother. I hope, however, that the storm will soon recede.
Dad has decided that we need a Swedish au pair in our house. “Yes, a Swede who knows English,” he said. “Schools, records are useless. It takes a young and modern girl, who gets the children used to the language. And the, all in all, I want to give an English refresher too.” But Mom doesn’t agree with the Swedish girl and the brush up she wants to give to Dad. On the contrary, she said that if anything, instead of a girl, it was better to have an au pair Swedish boy, so Dad would stop being a cockerel, and that she didn’t want to create sexual problems for me and especially for Dad, and many other things. In short, Dad bought a quick English course on records. I went to look up in encyclopedia of boys what sexual problems are but I found nothing. Tomorrow I’ll ask Dad.”