Meeting Antonio Quaglio, in Prague

Meeting Antonio Quaglio, in Prague

“Pleased to meet you, I’m Antonio Quaglio. My wife, daughters, we are from Genoa. A little fishing village near Portafino. All Americans know portafino. Here is a picture. We live 40 kilometers to the side of this building.”

“It’s easily 50 kilometers,” says his wife.

“She is right, she is right. It’s certainly more like 50. What I know, Ms. Stafford, is that she is right and we are happy. She is wrong and I sleep in the boat.”

“You’re a fisherman then?” I ask.

“Orthopaedic surgeon. At our public hospital. I keep the boat for pleasure only. Not for working. It’s the time I am not working. It’s not sanitary enough.”

“He is always working.”

“Not on holiday or on the boat, mi amore. This woman. These women. This is what I work for. For their happiness. But a surgeon is not like in the United States. I mean the job is the same – cut bones, mend bodies. But the reward is quite different. You study five years at university. Then six years specialty. After you decide. Do you risk it all and become in private practice? Do you play safe and get… a salary from the public hospital?”

“Antonio does both. He works trauma and emergencies and hospital patients on the public system, the free health care. “

“And I also have a private practice. But because I am exclusive at the hospital, when I see my own patients, a royalty goes to the hospital so it’s not all mine.”

“But he’s always working!”

“Not on holiday, or on the boat. I must make sure Lavinia can go to school in London or the Netherlands. And Maria has her gospel singing lessons. It’s true. Your daughter comes from Louisiana to sing Italian Operas. My daughter wants to be in Chicago or New Orleans to sing like Adele or Aretha. She has a black woman’s soul in her voice.”

“And Lavinia is graduating IB this May. She studies all the time. History, the Cold War. And yet she wants to go to the US. Everyone in Italy wants to go to the US for good jobs and culture.”

“But we came to Europe for the culture!” I say.

“I know, I know. You come to see what used to be. The past. Nostalgia for what was. We want to see what will be. But it’s hard to find the future when you hold on to the past.” His wife sighs and looks at her husband. 

“It’s true. We tried to create a website. To help people meet in real life. We made a plan. Yo follow our dream. But we spend our extra time and money and we can’t make it launch. I can’t make it launch. Business partners. We have no more dream, then.”

“So he is working all the time. At the hospital. And for patients. And to build the website. Always working, studying, lessons. No time for family.”

“Mi amore, this is the time. I never work on vacation. Or on the boat.”

1683 1226 Stafford Wood
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