“I do believe in the old saying, ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger.’ Our experiences, good and bad, make us who we are. By overcoming difficulties, we gain strength and maturity.” – Angelina Jolie

At Volpi’s Law Firm

“Good afternoon. I’m Vanessa.”

“Good afternoon. Nice to meet you. I’m Serena.”

“My pleasure. Welcome,” a woman of about forty years old and of rather massive physique made her way to Serena after shaking her hand firmly for a while.

The law firm of Vanessa Volpi was located in a historic building on the corner of one of the central streets of Modena. Which was extremely comfortable for Serena: for years, she used to park her car in the parallel lane  and then walk to her office. Same way, Volpi’s law firm was also easily reached by foot.

As Serena could expected, Volpi’s law firm was furnished in total respect with the best traditions of Modena. The antique furniture in excellent condition was giving the office a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere, with a slight touch of severity.

With a habitual gesture, Vanessa indicated Serena to one of the chairs that surrounded the long, oval-looking table of ever imposing dimensions, situated right in the centre of the office.

Once upon a time this table was used as a dining table by some large and well-off family. Or maybe there was only one person and his butler, while the rest of the table covered with a bright white tablecloth was constantly empty. As in the films that …“, for a moment, Serena’s thought had slipped out of the argument that the two women were about to face. Yet again, it was immediately interrupted by Vanessa’s penetrating gaze.


“Could you, please, explain me how on Earth is it possible that beautiful, bright and brilliant lady as you are, the one who possesses all necessary values and seems mentally sane to me, falls in love with someone like Domiziani? That’s incredible!”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome… Take a seat, please”, in a second Vanessa took a folder from her desk situated in the opposed part of the office and sit at the head of the long, oval-looking table where Serena was expecting for her to proceed.

“This woman has a strong character, powerful will and is used to assume leading positions. Moreover, she believes that she’s always right. A different opinion is always wrong to her, though she might display some tolerance towards it”, Serena mind was scanning Vanessa’s moves. Moves which weren’t neither too slow nor too fast nor awkward, that often are characteristic to persons of giant physique or to those who are ‘slightly’ over-weight. On the contrary, each Vanessa’s gesture was precise and secure. It was perfect. “She’s like a dolphin”, thought Serena.

“So… Tell me everything… Even if I’ve already got a full picture here… However, you do understand that a picture like this one could barely ever be “full”. Each aspect of this situation is complicated,” Vanessa crossed her eyebrows and looked at Serena as if the woman in front of her represented a special edition of unknown human species.

Twelve Years Report

“Did you have an opportunity to read a report I’ve sent you yesterday by e-mail? By the way, thank you so much for finding time for me so quickly. Giuseppe has warned me that normally it takes weeks if not months…”

“Giuseppe is a close friend of mine. His priorities are dear to me”, Vanessa cut off immediately with suddenly friendly and reassuring notes in her voice. Serena noticed that the woman’s ice-blu eyes gleamed for an instant, while her thin lips slightly curved in almost imperceptible smile.

Next moment, Vanessa expression turned serious and concentrated. “Yes, I’ve seen your report. Yet, given that I had little time, I’ve only skimmed through it gathering the “cream”.  Also because Giuseppe had already exposed me to this your situation. Hoever I would’t bet he was precise. He’s a man after all. It’s rare for a man to be as precise as we are. Therefore they are hardly reliable. You do agree with me.”

“Well, I’m agree. Though that wasn’t a question. She’s decided that I do agree”, thought Serena in a fraction of a second.

A Disturbing Story

“To begin with, let me appreciate your Italian. Seriously, I double mean it. I’m deeply sorry for your current situation, though. On the other hand, I’m really happy you are over that situation of yours and now you only have to resolve this one. Which is far not simple, since the case appears to be extremely complicated. However, must admit I was pleased to read your report due to the way you’ve wrote it. Especially, for your Italian language skills. You see, I can’t help myself to admire how a non-native speaker manages to use the Italian language so fluently, to explore the vast gamma of epithets and metaphors in order to depict with absolute precision the whole series of events. And yet we are talking about a document of juridical genre”, Vanessa glanced at Serena admiringly, then continued:

“Do you know, that 80% of Italians out there”, Vanessa pointed out to the window with her finger, “are incapable to write? Not that they are literally illiterate, no. Yet they don’t know how to put their thoughts into correct written form. They have no idea about how to structure the text, and sometimes hardly manage to express themselves orally in logic and concise manner. And yet, we ours is one of the most beautiful, rich and melodic languages of the world… There’s ignorance that scares. Therefore, please accept my most sincere compliments. You know, you must write a book. You owe a story after all.”

“I’m thinking about it already”, Serena smiled heartily.

Vanessa looked carefully right in Serena’s eye for about ten seconds and added without hesitation:

“Do it. You worth it. Your story is disturbing. Incredibly disturbing.”

What Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger

Two women maintained uninterrupted eye contact for what could be described as interminable instant, emanating some kind of intense blue electricity. “You know the saying, ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger’? That’s true. So, the question is… Are you going to work on my case or tell me that there’s nothing you can do, just as did all you colleagues before you?” finally asked Serena in a crystal clear voice.

“What time will suit you tomorrow?” Vanessa was gracefully opening her agenda, without removing her eyes from Serena.

To be continued…

This post is also available in: English Italiano