The Umberto Eco Story

The Umberto Eco story

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“I guess Umberto Eco is the writer you meet in Milan…”

I was in Milan yesterday, late in the morning, standing in this small edicola, browsing through the pages of Vogue and reading some of their fashion stories. I was feeling chilly in my Valentino dress, with its flares brushing my bare legs with every move I made but my hair down did help to keep me warm. I was also wearing heels because, you know, I was in Italy.

Leafing through 400 pages of editorial got tricky after a while, so I licked my finger to turn the page.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

The man had said this in English that was heavily tainted with an Italian accent. I turned to see who had said this and I found a man donning a black hat and a beard.

“Excuse me?”

“I suggest you don’t lick your finger to turn those pages.”

“Why?”

“Trust me, it gets complicated.”

He smiled at me, in a way my grandfather used to smile at me, with hope that I take his advice. I closed the magazine and moved closer to him while playing with my heavy necklace.

“Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong century; that you belong to another time?”

“I think we always idealise a time that is not our present. Sometimes it’s better to imagine signorina.”

“I’ve always thought I should have been born in Victorian England — donning a pale complexion, wearing structured haute couture dresses, and dying of consumption at an age when my beauty is at its height, but without the men suppressing the rights of women factor.”

“Something tells me you have already lived this life. You know, you could live a thousand and one more if you want to; you can read as many stories as you want where I live,” he smiled, the same grandfatherly smile.

“Thank you but I have a guy, which reminds me, I must run and meet someone. Bouna giornata a lei Signore.”

Story credits: Paris review- The art of fiction no. 197; Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.

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