Found: a new family for Italy's lonely grandfather

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The Independent Online

The retired Italian teacher, who advertised last month for a family to take him on as its "granddad au pair", will start his new life tomorrow with a family in northern Italy.

Giorgio Angelozzi, 80, took the rare and dramatic step of advertising for a new family when he became lonely. A classics teacher who taught at an Italian high school for 40 years, he has been living alone since his wife, Lucia, died 12 years ago. Their only daughter, Loredana, is unmarried and spends most of the year outside Italy working as a medical volunteer.

Mr Angelozzi, who lives with seven cats in an apartment outside Rome, was inundated with replies to his appeal. Offers of adoption came from all over Italy as well as Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil. Exciting adventures beckoned, but Mr Angelozzi finally decided on a family living near Bergamo, north-east of Milan. The family has missed its elderly relatives as keenly as he was missing his own family.

Elio and Marlena Riva live in the countryside near the birthplace of the painter Caravaggio and the celebrated park of San Rocci. They have two children, Mateush, 18, and Dagmara, 16.

Mrs Riva is Polish and her parents still live her homeland. Her Italian husband lost both his parents and a brother in quick succession. "This granddad has need of help," Mrs Riva told the Corriere della Sera newspaper, "and we have need of him. After many struggles we want to see smiles again in the house."

Mr Angelozzi said: "Marlena's voice reminded me so much of my wife Lucia's. I knew right away that I had found my new home."

Mrs Riva will travel to Rome tomorrow to collect "babo" (daddy), as she is already calling him, and take him home to meet his new family.

The children have promised to be good. "We'll listen to our music with headphones on," said Dagmara, "so as not to get on his nerves."

Mr Angelozzi, however, has lived long enough to know it may not work. "I must learn how to make myself softer," he said. "I've got this terrible burden from the Jesuits, a fearfully rigorous education. But I will learn how to ignore things, I will be more tolerant of those around me. It will be wonderful.

"And if it really doesn't work out, well, patience. I will go home before the bridge collapses. I've asked my landlord to give me three months' leave of absence."

The only obvious losers are his cats, which, for the time being, will stay with a friend.