Stephania was trying to impress her new beau, Giorgio Balducci, who was a well-reknowned connossieur of fine art and sculpture. She had met him at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was curator in the Rennaisance Art Department and they bumped into each other in the Museum cafeteria. The attraction was instant. Giorgio was coming to pick up Stephania at her upper eastside townhouse and they would have dinner at Costanza's on 48th Street.

A few days before their date, Stephania strolled down Madison Avenue to the area known as Antiques Row. She knew exactly what she was looking for to impress Giorgio and she found it at the Leonardo Art Gallery at the corner of 57th Street. The painting was approximately four by five feet and it depicted an Italian nobleman. His attire was impeccable, his stature was tall and regal. The shop owner told her it was a painting of an Italian count, Giovanni Minucci, an official in the Venetian court system. Stephania paid $5200 for the painting and it was delivered the next day. She had it hung it in a prominent position in her marble-floored entryway.

Giorgio arrived at 7:30 Friday evening. Stephania took special care to look ravishing but ladylike. Giorgio was something special and she was determined that everything would go very well with this relationship.

"Stephania, you look beautiful," he exclaimed as he walked through the door. Stephania blushed and took his hand. He pulled her closer and gave her a warm and friendly hug. She blushed again.

Giorgio looked past Stephania's shoulder and his attention suddenly riveted on the large painting that hung on the wall.

"Ah, that is my great-great grandfather, Giovanni Minucci, of Venice. He was the chief judge of the Venetian court system and very well respected," said Stephania.

Giorgio blanched, and then suddenly the blood rose to his cheeks in a sudden gush of recognition and anger.

"No, Stephania," he cried. "That is Vincenzo Viva who was arrested and tried in 1840 by MY great-great grandfather who was chief justice of the Venetian court. Giovanni Minucci was a fraud and a cheat. He was eventually jailed for over 50 years. It was the most difficult and important case my great-great grandfather presided over, and that picture has been in my family album for over 250 years."

Stephania did what any red-blooded Italian lady would do. She fainted. When she came to, Giorgio was gone. Mama had always said her wild imagination and superior airs would get her into deep trouble one day. As always, Mama was right.

 

 

 


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