A walk with Enrico Passaro in the state protocol, between official and anecdotes
Those who have attended Palazzo Chigi in the last twenty years, those who have participated or attended events in which the President of the Council was present pro tempore, has certainly glimpsed the gentle silhouette of Enrico Passaro, he will have met his watchful gaze on people and movements, appreciated affability and professionalism. He is the Head of State Ceremonial.
From Berlusconi to Conte, passing through Monti, Letta, Renzi and Gentiloni, Passaro was (and is) the shadow that precedes and accompanies our Premier in major national and international events, prepares meetings with Heads of State and Government , reviews the schedules of institutional missions abroad and around Italy. Many will have noticed it in the days of the last G20 in Rome, alongside Draghi: it was everywhere, in the Nuvola di Fuksas, where the works took place, or at the Trevi Fountain, at the end of the short walk of the leaders in the historic center of the capital. His idea of the launch of the coin by the Great Ones of the Earth. A photo that has been around the world. As well as his idea of involving medical and health personnel in the official photo of the Summit, as a thank you for the incessant and extraordinary work done in this pandemic. “For the first time, after the photo, I saw all the leaders applaud”, he confided.
But the relationship with Draghi did not start very well. “You will drive me crazy”, the former President of the ECB whispered to him, once he crossed the door of Palazzo Chigi.
Last night Passaro presented his book “We don’t do ceremonies” (Scientific Editorial) in Milan, at the Stelline.
Several testimonies: Stefano Buffagni, Parliamentary of the 5 Star Movement, former Undersecretary to the Presidency for Regional Affairs in the Conte I Government, admitted: “When we arrived we were like extraterrestrials, luckily we were able to rely on the ceremonial office”; Mayor Beppe Sala, who has practiced with the protocol since Expo 2015, with all the visits of the leaders, from Putin to Merkel, from Michelle Obama to Netanyahu, summarized his thinking with Ambrosian pragmatism: “after all, the ceremonial makes life easier”.
Stefano Rolando, lecturer in communication at the IULM University and former Head of the Department for Publishing at Palazzo Chigi between the mid-80s and the mid-90s, has fished in the past amusing anecdotes on “protocol breaks”, for example those of President Pertini. Once, on a visit to Spain, Pertini stopped in front of the journalists, even if it was not foreseen by the ceremonial and, with the King holding him under his arm, a circumstance that he generally did not appreciate, he said: “I am happy to be here with this young man , which brought the Republic back to the country “(he meant democracy, one can imagine the panic …).
But the most beautiful line in the presentation, introduced by PierCarla Delpiano, president of the Stelline Foundation, and moderated by the director of Affari Italiani, Angelo Maria Perrino, is from the Prefect of Milan, Renato Saccone, grew up at the Viminale school, with a long experience in many Italian cities. “One day we will ask ourselves: who is that person alongside Enrico Passaro?”. After all, we are a country that in 76 years has changed 67 Governments… In Germany, Passaro’s colleague – Passaro said at the end – does not remember the last handover between German Chancellors. Maybe it wasn’t there either. In fact, it was the year 2005! It was November 22 …
For Passaro, in the room, many “of the trade”: from the head of the ceremonial of the Lombardy Region, Davide Pacca, to the colleague of the Municipality, Luca La Camera; from the director of institutional affairs of Assolombarda, Pietro Sala, to the head of the “protocol” of the Curia of Milan, Marco Zibardi, from the head of external relations of Fiera Milano Spa, Andrea Ferrari, to the head of events at the Science and Technology Museum, Mauro Bonazzoli, from the Director of Entertainment of the Municipality of Milan, Isabella Menichini, to the former prefect of Milan, Gian Valerio Lombardi, for several years at Palazzo Chigi as director of the Cabinet of the Secretary General in the years of Ciampi, Berlusconi and Dini.
With this book, Passaro takes us for a walk in the events of the State Protocol, with seriousness, rigor, sometimes even with a little lightness. Experiences, emotions and memories behind the scenes of state affairs. As his teacher, Massimo Sgrelli, author of an indispensable manual for those who work in institutions, says in the preface: “Public forms contribute to forming institutional awareness and are a component of public ethics”. So easy to say… we don’t do ceremonies!
Not at all ceremonious, but very heartfelt, the long applause that President Delpiano wanted to pay to the former head of the ceremonial of Palazzo Marino, who passed away last year, Serafino Cagnetti, a real citizen “institution”.