#8 with a bullet.  Thanks George Noory for inviting me on to chat about the flipside. Always fun to be on COAST TO COAST  in the wee hours of the morning!

This just in from a therapist, who used the simple guided meditation at the heart of this book; from The Beatles "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds:" "Picture yourself in a boat on a river."
It's easy to do and once one has pictured the boat and the river, invite one's guide, teacher, guru on the flipside to stop by for a chat and see if they'll allow you to visit your very own divine council. (Not everyone says "yes, sure!" - but most do.) In that adventure of spirit, one can learn the reasons why they're on their journey and who has been watching over them for all their journeys.
Just got this note from a psychotherapist-counselor working with a hospital:
"Just took one of my clients through "a boat on a river" exercise to visit their council. It went really well - my client very moved and found it helpful!" and "Just took one of my clients through "a boat on a river" exercise to visit their council. It went really well - my client very moved and found it helpful!" and "Very profound experience. I will keep looking for opportunities to utilize this approach to helping my clients struggling with their mental health. Thanks for all your work and inspiration!"
Thanks for saying so!



 Upcoming appearance on COAST TO COAST with George Noory - Midnight to 2 a.m. TUESDAY THE 29TH OF NOVEMBER on the West Coast. Always fun to talk to George - we’ll be talking about

Divine Councils in the Afterlife: The Flipside Court
Divine Councils in the Afterlife: The Flipside Court

Basically how the book came about, the people that participated in the experiment to see if people who’d never heard of the research might be able to visit their councils, meet their guides, etc - over zoom. No hypnosis required.

There’s always a call in segment, so if you have questions or want to say hello, set those alarm clocks!



 Hello Hacking the Afterlife fans.


Eleven Eleven

 In honor of today's date, a talk I gave on the topic in Laguna Woods a few years back.



 Divine Councils in the Afterlife: The Flipside Court Kindle Edition

by Richard Martini (Author) Format: Kindle Edition
#1 New Release in Occult Astral Projection


from a Kindle Customer. 5.0 out of 5 stars Divine Council in the afterlife Reviewed in the United States on November 1, 2022

(Verified Purchase) “Bravo ,this is such an enlightening book of information, that I don’t have the words to explain how this has been a wonder and fascinating look at what I feel about my life ,this time around , the validation that I am more than what I see and feel in this world . Kind of like don’t sweat the small stuff ,it’s all in the plan . Comforting to realize that going “Home “ is not the end but just another chapter in my existence . Thank you Rich Martini.”

You’re welcome!

What’s this latest book about?

Rich: It’s about how everyone has a council. How everyone can access their council, and they don’t need to have a near death experience, out of body event, or use hypnotherapy to access it. People can use those methods, and I recommend hypnotherapists licensed and trained by the Newton Institute, (they have a searchable database on their website) but this book was to prove the premise that anyone can access their guides, teachers, council members without using hypnosis — simple guided meditation.

What’s the simple guided meditation?

I use a Beatles lyric; “Picture yourself in a boat on a river.” Something anyone can do. Picture yourself in a boat on a river. Look around. What kind of boat is it? What body of water is it? Ask your guide, loved one to sit across from you in the boat. Pretend you can see them. Pretend you can ask them questions. Ask them to nod, shrug or shake their head. Ask questions you cannot know the answers to. When they answer a question before you can ask it, you’ll know you have a connection?

Who are the test subjects?

From all walks of life. The first half of the book are people who had never heard of me, or that there might be councils “in the afterlife.” The only thing they had in common was doing guided meditation in a group setting. That allowed me to know upfront that I could ask them questions and they wouldn’t be afraid to say “this is what I’m seeing when you asked that.” From there it’s off to the races.

How many council members are there?

Depends on the person. Depends on the council and if they’re all available at the time we visit. Some have three to six, some have more — some have a dozen. It depends.

Are all councils amenable to discussion?

No. Some council members see this as a kind of “letting the cat out of the bag” experience. That the person I’m speaking with should not be visiting their council yet — they will eventually, and there’s no reason to reveal things that might upset this person’s path. However, as I’ve learned, those who “aren’t supposed to know about councils” will not — they won’t be able to visit theirs, and won’t believe that others are visiting councils. Those who don’t want to know how the play ends, won’t — but those who are interested in the process, can learn.

What’s the most unusual aspect of this research?

That people often see mythological creatures on their councils. However, they’re an avatar presenting themselves to communicate with us — so in essence, we are all light. However, someone who “normally incarnates” in some other form (could be a creature, or someone who normally incarnates on another planet) presents themselves as they like to be seen. Basically people who are “more advanced” or “older, wiser” get to sit on councils. So not matter how odd they may look to the person doing the meditation, they always learn something new from the visit.

Physiologically, what’s happening in these interviews?

In Dr. Greyson’s book AFTER he talks about filters that block information people experience during a near death event — info that is “conducive to the survival of the being.” Dr. Helen Wambach noted the same filters in her work “Reliving Past Lives” where she had 2750 case studies with people accessing previous lifetimes. Everyone reported that we choose our lifetimes, that we bring a portion of our conscious energy to a lifetime and the “rest stays home.” What people are doing is “bypassing the filters.”

Does everyone have filters?

Apparently so — some children don’t have them until the 8th year, when the skull hardens, see people who “aren’t there” or recall previous lifetimes — and Dr. Greyson notes in “Is Consciousness Produced by the Brain?” on Youtube, that elderly people appear to lose them prior to passing. Over 70% of the hospice care workers in the UK note their dementia patients spontaneously “regain memory” just prior to passing. As Greyson notes, the atrophying brain appears to lessen the filters that block this information. Mediums have different filters than we do — some are able to see, hear, sense information others cannot. Just the same way some animals can sense information — bees see UV light, dogs can smell cancer — it’s because they are not filtering out information that others do.

When’s the audible coming out?

Should be out in a few days, linked on the website at Amazon.

Why the cover art?

Michelangelo was asked to paint the Sistine chapel in his 30’s, and then returned three decades later to paint the Last Judgment. His story has a flipside element to it; he was adopted by Lorenzo De Medici when he was 11 to be a member of the Platonic Academy. Then the Vatican tried to destroy Florence and all of it’s “liberal attitudes” — the Pope approved a contract killer to take out the Medici brothers Lorenzo and Giuliano. In 1497 they murdered the beloved Florentine Giuliano De Medici, who appears in the painting Primavera by his uncle Sandro Botticelli. Lorenzo was stabbed, but not killed. He was shocked to learn who was behind his brother’s death.

Later, in response to the Vatican treachery, Lorenzo’s son became Pope Leo X, the “humanist pope.” He hired his old friend Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. But then, thirty years later, the illegitimate child of the murdered Giuliano became Pope Clement VII and hired Michelangelo to finish the task.

This final panel, which details the “last day of a person’s life” includes a life review and a number of other details that are found in the research. It’s almost as if Michelangelo was painting his own last day on the planet.



 The latest book is finished - still working on the hardcover/paperback edition, but it is the culmination of the past year’s focus and research.

Asked Mick for permission for using this.

Here’s the link to see the Kindle:

Divine Councils in the Afterlife: The Flipside Court - Kindle edition by Martini, Richard. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @

In this book, I specifically started with people who had 1. never read any of my books, 2. never heard of me, 3. had not met their “councils.” The only thing they had in common is that they were professionals who had done “group meditation.”

Which meant I could ask them questions and instead of saying “I’m making this up” they would say “I’m seeing what you’re asking me.”

From there it was an experiment to see how many would actually meet a guide, how many would actually meet their council. how many would see the “same hallmarks” as those who’ve done four and six hour sessions. There are two neuroscientists in this sampling, one who wanted to remain anonymous, and the other is one of the winners of the Bigelow Prize and a member of this forum. I can’t thank him enough for Akila W letting me use his name in the book - because it gives it a different spin when you realize someone who exists is actually reporting the details. The first half is just these folks, the second half is people who did read my work, but had never met their council.

This is a mind bending book.

Caveat emptor: If you aren’t familiar with the process or familiar with the research, don’t start with this book. It’s not for beginners with regard to the flipside. I recommend reading Dr. Weiss’ “MANY LIVES MANY MASTERS” or Michael Newton’s JOURNEY OF SOULS, or Dr. Greyson’s AFTER for a more scholarly discussion of consciousness.

Some people may be upset by what people are saying in this book - again, one has to compare what they’re saying the other examples in other books, other case studies, other research. The book ARCHITECTURE OF THE AFTERLIFE is only people like this who did a guided meditation. There are 50 accounts in that book.

In this book there are 22 sessions with direct visits to councils - and then excerpts from previous council visits from my other books to compare data.

There are 50 accounts in total. Some are excerpts of hypnotherapy sessions, but most are from guided meditation sessions.

What’s the point?

Anyone can visit their council and meet those folks who report they are “always tethered to us” always “Have our back” and are aware of our journey and rooting for us every step of the way.

But it’s not for everyone, and again - please do not read it if you already have a problem with this topic in general. It’s not meant for everyone, but those who are supposed to read it, will seek it out, and those who are not, will not.

Paperback, hardcover and audible are on their way in a few days.

Hope this helps.


Ascend Into Radiance

 Here's one from the Archives:

Chatting with the Afterlife: Emmett Till


Chatting with the Afterlife: Emmett Till

In our podcast — we generally talk to people that on the flipside have requested speaking to us. I know that sounds odd, but it’s the process we’ve fallen into. My friend on the flipside, Luana Anders, has a “clipboard” — and the folks that seek her out, are put on the list of people to chat with.


Hacking the Afterlife with Jennifer Shaffer - "Back To School" With Luana Anders and James Dean

This is another example of the unusual work that Jennifer and I have been doing for seven years.  In this podcast, I ask our moderator on the flipside, Luana Anders what she wants to talk about or if she has someone who wants to come forward to speak. She begins by showing Jennifer a "toddler" - literally shows her an image of holding up a child.  Jennifer has no idea what that means, nor do I. Is she asking us to talk about a specific child on the flipside? A specific child on this side? Or about some form of process or how the flipside works? Luana said she wanted to talk about "process."  Which is my way of saying "It's not a specific person per se, but how the process works." She then made Jennifer aware of the topic of how stressed children are... Jennifer assumed she meant "these days, post pandemic." I did the same, because it is a topic in universities and schools - how distracted people are coming back to school, how the multitasking, multi-focus of social media has "driven some people crazy" making it harder to focus on any particular topic.  How the trauma and stress of the past two years - and the fears involved, are affected students and children alike. However, that is not what Luana was only talking about. And neither Jennifer nor I knew why she had brought the topic up until the very end of the podcast. Then she mentioned seeing "James Dean." For those not familiar with the podcast, that's going to be an odd comment - for those who've read "Backstage Pass to the Flipside" they know that he's shown up before. Not only has he shown up, but he revealed to Jennifer that he's already "reincarnated" or returned to the planet. That means that "a portion of his conscious energy" has returned to the planet. I asked him questions about that, and he revealed the person that he's come back as. Jennifer didn't know his name - but based on James' description, I guessed who he was referring to.  And then I texted the best friend of this person - meaning I know the person he's "come back as" and know his best friend well enough to text him and ask "Hey, has anyone approached our mutual friend and said he was the reincarnation of someone?" And he texted back "JAMES DEAN." And said "His whole life this has happened."   Took me a couple of years but I finally put this person in Jennifer's orbit - filmed them having a conversation, filmed his reports of having memories of being Dean his "whole life" - and how others knew it as well.  Suffice to say he hasn't "come out of the closet" because he's had a very successful happy life and career. He has no need to reveal that aspect of his life - and I must respect it - even it if meant "proof that life goes on."  We've learned that's not something for everyone - but it is for those who experience it. But I asked him if that was why he showed up to the podcast today, to talk about that journey - and he said "No." He wanted also to talk about the process. About how "being aware that life goes on can help people to not end their lifetimes here." That leaving early, while he didn't leave the planet deliberately - but being aware that those who have left the planet can help us is something he wanted to convey. And then, finally, Jennifer asked Luana "Am I getting this right? Why did you show me holding up a child?"  And Luana answered "because it's the first week of school. Of kids going back to school."  So everything in this podcast is about lessening the stress of that event - for parents obviously, to open up and listen to their children, to know that there are folks on the flipside who care equally about the mental health and experience of our children, their grandchildren, nephews, nieces - and they want us to allow them to help. Mind bending.

Hacking the Afterlife with Jennifer Shaffer, Luana, Magda and Robin Williams

Jennifer and I improvise each week, asking who it is on the flipside wants to chat with us. Luana Anders is our moderator on the flipside, and whoever wants to come through is up to her. Her mentioning this woman "Magda" in terms of a book I'm writing, an interview I did with a woman who was able to access this Magda, who claimed to be a Praetor's wife in the cabinet of Herod in the time of Jesus was pretty unusual.  A note here to say that I've never heard of the word Praetor that I'm aware of, I don't know what it means, but as I was typing this description the word came to mind "Praetor's wife" - which means according to Wikipedia: Praetor ( Classical Latin: was the title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to a man acting in one of two official capacities: (i) the commander of an army, and (ii) as an elected magistratus (magistrate), assigned to discharge various duties.") I did not know that. I've heard of the Praetorian guard, but I assumed they only guarded Caesar, and as such the word Praetor is completely unknown to me. But it popped into my head. Magda Archelaus - I don't know if she was married to Herod, or just someone in his cabinet - but in the research I'd done on the name, I looked up Herod Archelaus. (Famed during the era).  The interview I did with her was mind bending, as she claimed to be privy to events that led to the Crucifixion as well as the recovery of the body of Jesus, and those who attended to him - trying to heal him with aloe and myrrh (also reported in the Bible.) Luana suggests I dig deeper.  (I had stopped digging after including the article in this book I've written about accounts of Jesus from the flipside perspective.)  I shall endeavor to do some more digging. Robin Williams came in to talk about process - and indeed, mentioned this woman who reached out to me who had a conversation with him after our mentioning him recently.  She got this idea of a "granny award" or the role of granny - which I at first assumed meant Mrs. Doubtfire, but according to this conversation, may be the one where he played the role of a Granny onstage for Andy Kaufman in the 1970's.  Pretty funny stuff. As always, enjoy the podcast as an example of how simple it is to reach out to one's loved ones.  Enjoy.


An heirloom from the Flipside



Grandfather Valentino wearing his grandfather’s war medal from 1848
For the Defense of Cadore 1848

A family heirloom rediscovered.

I ran across a photograph of this family heirloom the other day. The first photograph is my Italian grandfather Valentino Martini wearing the medal sometimes in the early 1900’s; perhaps his wedding day in 1915. I forgot about this medal until someone on the flipside suggested there was an “important photo of a man wearing a hat, holding the back of a chair.” This is the only photo like that I am aware of in our home — when my wife showed the medium the photograph, the medium said she got “chills from it.”

So I looked closer at the photograph. He’s not wearing suspenders, but a medal. I recognized it as a medal my father kept in a safety deposit box for decades. When the box was emptied, and the movers moved the contents of the house, one of the movers stole the medals in that box (and my parents jewelry and diamonds.) So somewhere in a pawn shop in the Windy City rests these three medals and diamond rings. I did my best to recover them — but one day while accessing my father and asking about these things, he said “they are where they need to be.” So I let it go.

However, the conversation with the medium prompted me to look again at this photograph of my grandfather Valentino. He’s wearing the medal that was in a safe deposit box, along with my Irish grandfather Edward A Hayes “National Order of the Legion of Honour” that was awarded him by the French government. Medals that were supposed to be family heirlooms. I knew what two of them were, but not the third.

Here’s a photograph of the more famous French medal from Edward A Hayes:

The French Legion of Honor Award, Grade of Chevalier, “France’s most important medal of valor”

I’ve been the the Museum of the French Legion of Honour in Paris, where they verified he was awarded it, and in what year, but could not tell me anything else about it. The award is not given to many, but my grandfather Edward Arthur Hayes was awarded it during his lifetime of service in the U.S. Navy as a Commander and Assistant Secretary of the Navy during World War II. However, I assume it was given to him when he visited Paris in the 1930’s as National Commander of the American Legion. I have a postcard of Notre Dame that he wrote to my mom during that trip.

Another medal in the box, was unknown. But thanks to the internet I’ve been able to identify it as the “Commander of the Crown Medal” from Italy — given by the King of Italy, but I suspect this was given to my grandfather when he visited Rome as National Commander of the American Legion on that same trip. I have a photograph of him being saluted in front of the Victor Emmanuel Monument in Rome surrounded by military, including a crowd of black shirted Mussolini pals. (Circa 1934). Later, my grandfather orchestrated the surrender of the Italian Navy with Bill Donovan in 1943. But I suspect he got the Italian medal from that trip to Rome in 1933.

Commander of the Crown Medal (Italy)

USN Commander Ed A Hayes, far right, behind black hat Italian.

It was the “First national Order instituted after the unification of the Kingdom of Italy. This Order was conferred upon Italians and foreign citizens, regardless of religious affiliations, who had rendered extraordinary service to the Kingdom of Italy and the Sovereign within military and civil realms.”

Apparently the King of Italy gave him this medal in 1932. Oddly enough, some years later, my brother Robbie and I were having lunch in Rome with old friend Mirko Frattura’s father, who was an Admiral of the Italian Navy during the war. He was still a happy fascist, made a few snarky remarks about having to surrender to Americans, and offered that he tried to sink the ship the Americans were on — firing upon it instead of surrendering in 1943.

I had the odd moment of laughing, then saying “Well Signore, I’m glad you missed the ship, because it was my grandfather on that ship who accepted the surrender of the Italian Navy, your surrender.” Something he’d orchestrated with the help of “Wild Bill” Donovan of the OSS.

But I digress.

Alongside these two shiny medals was another flat brown medal, which reads “For the defense of Cadore” (ai defensori del Cadore) and has the date; 1848.

I’m familiar enough with our family tree to know that the name Valentino has been passed along for generations — and that the father of my grandfather was Alfonso (who came to the US in the late 1880’s) but that it was likely his father, another Valentino who earned the medal.

So I used the net to search the term “Ai defonsori del Cadore” and imagine my surprise to find a description of the battle that took place for people to earn this medal and published in Harper’s Weekly in 1911. The man interviewed was “Natale Tabachi.” He recounted his story and later, Robert Shackleton included it in his book “Undiscovered Places of Old Europe.”

Fun to find the entomology of anything that happened over 100 years ago. This is where the medal came from in 1848, and how it was passed down in my family. This is an excerpt from that book, in the Chapter “A William Tell of Unvisited Mountains.”

(Excerpted from Robert Shackleton’s book “UNVISITED PLACES OF OLD EUROPE” (Penn publishing 1922) Originally an essay for Harper’s Weekly (1911).


“One of the most interesting of all the Italian towns of the Dolomites is Pieve di Cadore. It is a small and compact place, a village set upon a hill, with houses large, of stone, with wide-projecting eaves. It is a charmingly situated and very ancient town, whose name, Italian fashion, has the softly musical pronunciation, with the accent on the second syllable of each three-syllabled word, of Peeavay dee Cadoray.

While at Pieve, which is over the border in the Italian Alps, Cortina being Austrian, it came to me that hereabouts there was much fighting back in the troublous times of 1848; that in this region the Alpine mountaineers fought to recover their freedom and overthrow the Austrian dominion, as they did in the days of William Tell; and that this race were Italian instead of Swiss, and were fighting not for Swiss government, but to re-establish that their beloved Italy, did not in the least lessen the fascination of it all, nor its strange resemblance to the picturesque warfare of centuries ago.

A large part of these Eastern Alps is Italian. For generations the people of this region have been Italian in race, in tradition, and in feeling, but by the division of Europe which followed the Napoleon wars this part of the Alps was given to Austria, regardless of the feelings of the inhabitants.

But In 1848, that year of revolutions in Continental Europe, came the opportunity to rebel, and these Alpine mountaineers rose against the Austrians, defeated them, and regained from them much of the mountain territory. The picture of it all grew more vivid to my fancy, Alpine mountaineers fighting here against the Austrians, as in the days of William Tell, yet within the memory of men now living! and with this thought there came another.

Here, where I was visiting an unvisited Switzerland, how fascinating it would be if I could actually find some ancient veteran who had fought, more than sixty long years ago, just as the early Swiss patriots fought six hundred long years ago! Instantly I sought out the landlord. “I should like,” I said slowly, “to talk with some old man who fought here in 1848 against the Austrians.”

His round face lengthened into doubting gravity. “But is there such a man?” he asked.

“Surely,” I replied, with matter-of-fact confidence. He was silent a few moments. Then: “If the signor can wait, I shall inquire/’ he said. And I thought, as I have often thought, how delightfully helpful a European landlord can be! He sought me out in the town in an hour or so, and said that he had learned of a ’48 veteran living in a village in another valley.

“With delight I shall lead you there,” he said, beaming as he saw how much he had pleased me, “But” with a touch of doubt “It is to walk! it is a mountain path and the snow “ I reassured him as to the walk and the snow, and we set off together over the mountain, and reached a tiny hamlet, a huddle of ancient stone houses, precariously clinging midway against a mountainside with a precipice dropping far down in sheer abruptness in front, and the mountain towering rugged and steep far above.

He led me to the ancient veteran’s ancient house, where the old man greeted me, his eyes glowing with happiness. “Buon giorno,” he said. He tried to draw up his stiff form with soldierly dignity. “I am Natale Tabachi,” he said; and then, with pride: “You would have me tell of the fighting?”

We sat down in a low-ceilinged, heavy-beamed room, around a fireplace of the ancient type, built out in the very center of the room, with open space all around it. We sat down in or rather climbed up on chairs with stilt-like legs, made thus high to permit of putting one’s feet on top of the fireplace hearth, and the veteran beamed expectantly.

But I knew that this was not a case where some slight understanding of ordinary Italian words would be satisfactory, so I said to the landlord: “This is delightful; and now I should like someone who can translate for me.” His round face lengthened. “But is there such a one?” he asked. “Surely,” I replied. He was silent for a few moments. Then: “If the signor can wait, I shall inquire,” he said.

And within fifteen minutes he was back, proudly leading a young Italian who had only the week before returned to his native home after three years spent in Boston and New York! And then, in that ancient house at the very edge of a precipice, a house looking over a superb view of valley and, mountains, we talked together. “I have never before talked with any but my own people,” he began; and I was glad, for it assuredly made him an unvisited mountaineer among these unvisited mountains practically unvisited even in summer, this village, set off as it is from the tourist track that reaches to Pieve.

Gradually the old man warmed eagerly and more eagerly to his subject, as old-time memories came charging to his mind, and his old voice trembled with emotion.

“I live among these mountains. They are my home. It was among these mountains that I was born; I, Natale Tabachi.”

Natale Tabachi photo in original Harpers Weekly 1911 (vol 55)

“And it is here that I shall die. But although I was born as a subject of Austria I shall go to my grave as a free man.”

“It was long ago that I was born. I am old, and it is easy to forget. But see here are my papers. I was still a young man when we fought the Austrians in 1848.”

“I do not forget that date. No! For here, on my medal, it is set down. Do you see? Will you read it to me?

‘Ai Difensori del Cadore, 1848?’ “Yes; that is it; for I was born a man of Pieve de Cadore and I fought for it against the Austrians. Do you wonder that I love this old medal and its little ribbon of green and yellow?”

“We are Italians, we; and why should we be under Austria? Italians, all; and our fathers and their fathers were Italian. And we did not like it that the Austrian flag flew over the forts among our mountains. Why should the Austrians hold our great Alps and our valleys and our villages because kings of rulers far away said that the line of boundary should be so and so and so?”

“In the year that was to have the great fighting there was much unrest. Men gathered and talked and said, ‘ There will be changes.” And rumors came of unrest in the land, and again men said: “There will be changes here. We will not be under the Austrians.”

“And other men came among us from the South, and quietly they went about, and it was not long before we said that we would be free and that we would no longer obey the Austrians. I do not remember all. I am old and there is much that I forget. But I well remember that we were to fight the Austrians and that some of us were hunters and had guns, and that for others there were guns that came from Venice.

And we were gathered together in bands. “Our leader was the Capitano Calvi. “A man of fire, he! A soldier! He was not of these mountains, but was an Italian of the South. I do not remember just how he came to us, but only that he came and was our leader and that we obeyed him with gladness, for he was a brave man and he knew the rules of war. A young man, too: perhaps thirty, perhaps a little more; slender and tall and with a long mustache upon his upper lip; and with eyes that flashed.”

Pietro Fortunato Calvi

So we gathered in the mountains and we knew that the soldiers would come against us. A few said, ‘They will not dare to come.’ But the most of us, we knew that was foolish, for of course the Austrians would not go away without trying to kill us. “

“We had no uniforms. We were dressed just as we worked in the villages and on our land. But we could shoot and we would not let the Austrians stay with us. “I had often seen the soldiers. Well did I know the tall hats and the straps across the breast and the knapsacks and the guns.”

Often had I said “Buon giorno” when I passed them in the road. But never had I thought to fight them.”

“So we gathered; and one day it was in May, we were near Chiapuzza. You know the place? (Near San Vito Di Cadore) And the valley is very narrow there, with great heights of mountain, for always the Capitano Calvi; he chose such places for us.

San Vito Di Cadore

And, indeed, as you have seen, there is little in this land but great mountains and great depths. “

And we saw the Austrians coming up the valley. We looked, and we said, “There are two thousand of them.” We watched them, for we had often seen them march through the valleys when there was peace between us. We saw the high hats and the straps across the breasts and the guns.

Austrians soldiers from 1848

“And the sun glistened upon the steel, for It was a bright and sunny day, and it was about the time of noon. I am old, and I forget much, but still there is much that I can remember.”

“Our guns were ready, but the Capitano Calvi had told us that we must not fire till we were told, and he was a man to obey. “

“We saw the Austrians stop; and perhaps two, three, I do not remember, walked forward with a white flag, and men said, “lt is peace, not war, and there will be no fight.’

And we were troubled, and we did not understand, and we were very silent as we watched, and we saw that the Austrians were met by our men and that there was talk. “

Afterward, men said that the Austrian leader had sent to tell us to throw down our guns and go home and be sorry and that there would be pardon, but that our Capitano he only laughed and he said, “We will fight.’

“And did I tell you that the women, many of our women, were with us? For they had said, ‘We, too, will fight.” And each of the women had her great field-fork. You have seen them?

And each of the women was strong. For our women, they work in the mountain fields and carry heavy loads and toss hay or straw with forks, and they are strong. “We had put the women behind us to fight if the Austrians came close. For they had said, “We will fight to save ourselves from the Austrians if they get past you.’

“And now they screamed, high and loud, those women yes, high and loud. Have you heard women scream when they would stab and kill? It is not a pretty sound. It is a very terrible sound.”

“For us men, to fight and to kill is a part of our lives. If it comes, it comes. It is right for man. But for women it is different. And they screamed, a laughing sort of scream, as the Austrian men were sent away, and the sound went back and forth among the cliffs. “

“And all the time the bells of the village were ringing. They were ringing fast and mad ringing, ringing, ringing. And in other villages the bells were ringing fast and mad, and the sounds came to us through the valleys. “The bells they rang so fast and so mad to make the alarm and tell all men to come and help us, and we knew that as they rang our friends and brothers were coming running over the mountains and through the valleys. “

“It was over sixty years ago, and I am old, and there is much that I forget, but never can I forget the mad ringing of those bells. It was a sound to make you weep, but also to make you grip your gun and know that you were ready to fight and to die. “

“Well, the messengers went back, and the women screamed, and even the boys who were with us to fight cried out, and when we men, watching so anxiously, saw that there was to be a fight, we too made a great, loud cheer. “

“The soldiers came on, but they were cautious and they came slowly. They fired at us from distances; and we aimed and we fired at them, for so the command had come to us. We aimed at the men just as we would aim at the chamois, but I do not believe we thought of that at all, even though we had often said ‘ “Buon Giorno” on the road.

“We wanted to kill, for we were hunting them, and whenever an Austrian fell we shouted for joy.” “For three hours, four hours I cannot tell we aimed and we fired, and the Austrians fired, and sometimes their bullets would hit a rock near us and send splinters.”

“But at last they had had enough, and they went off, sullen and slow, toward the north, toward the place from which they had come. They carried their wounded with them, but they left their dead, and we buried them. And, though they were young men, we felt no pity, for we thought only that we were fighting for our land. “

“Well, the war went on. And for days together, at a place a little farther south, we fought the Austrians again, and at night we would sleep just where we were, lying down on a rock or in the middle of the great pine woods, and always there were a few who watched to see that no soldiers came upon us in the dark, for so our Capitano told us, and he knew the rules of war. “

“Thus we would sleep at night, and in the day-time we would creep up the cliffs and climb over great rocks to watch the soldiers and to shoot at them. a And whenever an Austrian was hit and went falling, falling down, tumbling over and over like a great stone that had been rolled over the edge, we shouted for joy. “

“For the Austrians they burned our houses; they burned our villages; they killed our children. And they misused our women. And so it was that we shouted for joy whenever we saw one go tumbling and tumbling far down like a great clumsy stone. “

“So there, too, the Austrians could not pass us, could not drive us from our mountains, and for some days we marched and climbed and waited for them again. Often we were hungry. We shot a little game, but we did not like to waste powder and ball just for food to eat when we needed it for the Austrians. But our women they followed us up the mountain paths, carrying food for us, and we would build fires and cook our polenta and drink from the mountain springs and sometimes tell stories and sing and even dance.”

San Vito di Cadore mountains

Cadore Polenta and mushrooms

“But there was not much of that, for we did not know when the soldiers might come, and it was not well to make a merry noise to tell them where we were. “

“There was a priest with us, from one of our villages. He was an eager man and he said prayers over us, far up among the heights, and men would kneel before him for his blessing. And the priest often he would go before us and find a camping place, and he would say, just like a Capitano, ‘You will camp here. He was like a soldier that priest. An eager man, an earnest, eager man, and he said prayers over us and blessed us when we knelt. “

“There were many thousands of the Austrians, and they came against us from the north and from the south and from the east, so that we did not know which way to go. But our Capitano knew, and the priest knew, even though we did not know. “

Sometimes the Austrians attacked us in the night, but always our men who were on guard gave warning, and always we jumped up quick from where we were sleeping on the rocks or beside some fallen trees, and there would be a little firing and the soldiers would go back. “

“At last it was still in that same month of May, but many days had passed we thought they were coming at us from the south again, for at a place in the valley of the Piave, near a little town called Rivalgo, where the mountains are very high and the river runs swift through a narrow space, our Capitano made us barricade the road. With wood, with rocks, we built a barricade. And while some were building the barricade others were piling loose stones far up on the cliffs above, and others were undermining great rocks for powder to be put under them. “

The Piave River near Rivalgo Battle of the Piave from 1918 Pietro Fortunato Calvi

“All this did our Capitano Calvi order, and he was everywhere, and his eyes were flashing, and he was glad like a man who makes ready for a dance. There is much that I forget, but never can I forget our Capitano, and how he made us work to build the barricade and pile stones and undermine the rocks for powder. “

“At last there was better than building and piling and mining, for there was a cry, ‘The Austrians! They are coming!’ And every man went to his place, as our Capitano had directed, for he knew the rules of war. “

“The soldiers came on very brave, marching steady, steady, keeping step. Then they halted, and spread out across the narrow valley, and some were set to climb the rocks. And in all there were thousands of them. “

“We cheered and we fired, and we shouted when men fell; but the Austrians had a leader who would not easily give up, and his men all fired back at us, and more of them were set to climb the rocks. “

“And then we sent the stones rolling down, down upon them. The powder was exploded and the great rocks fell. And they struck the Austrians who were on the mountain-side, and many a man went rolling down with the rocks. And our men fired from behind the barricade. “

“And many rocks went down like live things, leaping from point to point and then springing down and scattering the soldiers in the road. “But even yet the Austrians would not retreat. We saw their officers urge them on, and the most active tried fast to climb above us on the mountain-side. But always we climbed higher and faster and always we fired our guns and rolled down stones. “

“I am old now, and my hands tremble and my voice trembles and it is hard to walk; but I was young then and could climb and shout and roll stones and fire my gun. “

“And at last they went back, they. Yes; the Austrians went back. And we shouted for joy, and we gathered around our Capitano and we shouted for love of him. “

“Their dead this time we did not bury. No. You have seen how swift is the Piave? You have seen how we men of the mountains float our logs in it, sending them down to the plains? Well, it was so that we did with their dead. We tossed them into the river, those men who had burned our villages and misused our women. We tossed them into the river, and we said, “You dead men, follow after the living.”

“And they followed fast, floating, bobbing, tumbling, in the swift waters of the river. “

“So it was that the Austrians could not beat us; for though we were not soldiers we could climb and shoot, and we were fighting for our own land, and our leader was a soldier who knew the rules of war.”

He paused for a long time, forgetting everything else in memories of those brave old days. Then he said very gently: “Men have said to me: ‘What was the use of fighting the Austrians? You are an old man and poor. How did it profit you?’

“Am I poor? I do not know. But I do not think so. “Here I sit in my house, on a comfortable bench, with my feet on the stone hearth built in the middle of the room. And is it not a pleasant heat that comes up from those logs? I have heat and I have shelter and I have food. Here, in this house, live my children. Here are also grandchildren. Soon there will be grandchildren’s children, and there will still be room, for we Italians are an easy and a friendly folk and there is always room. “

“And whether I sit in the warm sunshine at the door, or whether I look out of my window, I look up at great mountain slopes and I look down into this great valley at my feet, and I know that I, an Italian, am looking at Italian land. And on that fort, far up, is the flag of my country and not an Austrian flag!”


(Robert Shackleton’s memoir continues) I returned to Pieve di Cadore even more ready than before to appreciate the dearly bought liberties and the broad-minded government of the town and the region round about, for I now understood that liberty and government had been fought for and maintained for generations by such men as this. The Sindaco of Pieve, the mayor, serves for five years. He is elected by the Council, which also has supervision of roads and taxes.

And the Council members are chosen by those men, over twenty one years of age, who can read and write. The Sindaco is paid only in honor. “Of course he has no salary,” is the way the people quietly express it. The explanation of all this being that Cadore was a real and vital republic long before America was discovered, and that the ancient influence still lives.

There are great forests, the property of the various communes, and lumbering is an active business. Tens of thousands of trees are annually cut and floated down the tumbling current of the Piave to the Italian plain. For centuries these forests supplied masts for the Venetian ships, and long before that gave masts to Roman galleys, and the Romans had a school of forestry here!

And several hundred years ago there was a threatened teamsters’ strike, which the Council of Ten settled by declaring that, of every hundred loads of wood, seventy might be floated by water, but thirty must be hauled. We need not think that labor troubles are new!

The people are happy. Wine is their water; every one dances, every one sings, every one plays some musical instrument; there are amateur theatricals; there are frequent holidays and feast days; there is the friendly clink of glasses and the still more friendly three-syllabled “Salute!”

There comes the memory of an evening at this town of Pieve di Cadore, when there was an unplanned after-dinner gathering in the large room that was ordinarily used only in the busy season. A piano stood there, and the landlord and his two pretty daughters drifted in, and two girl friends from next door, and two officers from the fort, and a councillor, and the bald-headed waiter, still with his napkin draped over his arm.

All at once the piano was playing, a mandolin was twanging, a violin added its notes. Another moment, and the pianist, one of the officers, jumped up and claimed the prettiest girl. The waiter, absent-mindedly stringing his napkin about his neck, slipped into the place at the piano and madly thrummed an infectious tune, while violin and mandolin hummed and tinkled in unison.

For an hour everybody danced or played. Everybody was spontaneously happy and natural. Pieve di Cadore was the birthplace of the mighty Titian, and upon the house is the admirable inscription: “Cadore points out to its guests the house where Titian was born.”

Titian — Pieve Di Cadore

Close by Is a statue of Titian, belatedly put up a few years ago; and a heavy snow so covered the head and mantled the shoulders as to make it absurdly simulate the appearance of the late Queen Victoria. The people love to talk of Titian. It is as if he flourished yesterday. He is the familiar glory of the place.

And I remember an old man who, clad in trousers of marvelously patched yellow and coat of marvelously faded blue, swept a comprehensive arm toward the forested mountains, the village dotted valley, the river down whose current innumerable logs were tumbling, whirling, plunging, rushing tumultuously, as he said: “ It was here that Signor Titian sawed wood.”

But there was no touch of frivolity in this; no Italian echo of a figurative Americanism; to him it was all very literal, very serious. “You are perhaps interested?” he went on, slowly. “Then it is with pleasure that I shall tell. The Signor Titian, he went from this, his home, to Venice, and there he painted pictures multo!”again he waved a comprehensive arm. “

“But always he kept his share in one of the sawmills of this valley; it was a rich mill with much of business, and it made him many thousand of lire. And every year Signor Titian came back here to his home. It was to see to the money and the business; for, look you, a man* must live. Life, it is not all the making of pictures!

And so he came here every summer time. It was also for the good air of these mountains, for it gave him the health and the strength. “And it was because, one summer, he could not get back here that he died. You have heard? For the plague, it broke out in Venice, and the soldiers had made a line and said that no man should go out of the city. And so the signor died there in Venice, instead of coming back to the mountains and getting more money and health and life.”


It was in 1975 that I wandered into Pelos Di Cadore, a student going to school in Rome, armed with a postcard from his grandfather Valentino with the names of his cousins who remained in Pelos. I showed the card to a local woman, she said “Tutti sono morti!” (They’ve all died.) But she spotted one name on the card, and directed me to his fruit stand. I met his wife Irma washing vegetables, asked for her husband Giovanni Battista De Martin by name, and she called for him, “Titta!”

He walked out of the back room, said in English; “You’re Richard Martini, welcome home.” I had no clue how he could know who I was, but he said my grandfather had written to him six months earlier saying I’d arrive soon. He heard some American was “wandering around the town of Pelos” saying “Buon Giorno” to the locals, and he said; “You look just like him.”

I’ve met those family members, and our daughter just returned from visiting the ancestral stomping grounds. Families upon families, dating back at least until the 1600’s. I am reminded of my uncle Mario Vecellio, (Valentino’s first cousin) who was a direct descendant of Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) and the former President of Siemens Electric Company in Switzerland. Mario and his wife had lovely homes across Italy, in Positano, in Milano, but his favorite was in Pelos Di Cadore. And when Mario was near death, he hired an ambulance to drive him from Milan to Pelos, as he didn’t want to die without seeing his beloved home and the sparkling mountains once again.

If one gets a chance to hear the song “Bella Ciao” sung by an Italian, as I’ve heard many nights in Cadore, it brings to mind these beautiful mountains and the men who gave their lives to keep them free.

Point of this story is that the heirlooms we own (and have lost) all have some memory attached to them, and if we can tap into that energy or frequency, we can get a taste of what their lives were once like, even in a tiny village in the Alps near the border of Austria. A way of paying homage to their journey. A way of saying hello to someone who may be keeping an eye on us from the flipside.

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