A Lifetime of Love: Margherita Hack and Aldo De Rosa
This article was published on August 17, 2006, in issue 32 of Vanity Fair and we are reproposing it today to retrace the changes of which Vanity has been a protagonist in the last 20 years. Margherita Hack is famous for being one of the few female astrophysicists in the world (the only one known in Italy). But those who love and follow her (at the presentations of her books and conferences she is welcomed by hordes of fans) do it because she has always been (“since the third high school”, she remembers) a communist, an unyielding atheist and vegetarian, a champion of animal rights and those, secular, of human beings: she passionately supports civil unions and this has made her a reference point for gays in Italy. A kind of guru of “alternative thinking”, but also a living proof that you can live well within a (traditional) marriage for 62 years.
A Marriage Built on Mutual Respect
Margherita, 84, and her husband Aldo De Rosa, two more, were both born in Florence and have been living in Trieste for decades, where her work has taken them: she was a professor of Astronomy at the University and director of the Astronomical Observatory from 1964 to 1987. They live with a dog and an indeterminate number of cats in a villa with a garden, full of books (and relative dust), boxes of food for animals and frisbees scattered around the house as bowls. So we asked her how she did it. Then we asked the same questions to her husband and compared the answers. Mrs. Hack, from a sentimental point of view, your lifestyle has been decidedly un-transgressive. “Aldo and I have always gotten along well together. I have been lucky enough to live a relationship made of freedom, mutual respect. There was no need to transgress and, perhaps, there was not even the opportunity to find something better. My life has always been very full of work and passions: politics, sports”.
A Nuisance Wearing a Turned-Up Coat
Your story started playing ball. You were 11 years old. “We played together for one summer, then we lost sight of each other for many years and found each other again at the University. In short, between the first meeting and the beginning of our story there was a nice interlude”. So you had other boyfriends? “The word boyfriend horrifies me. Some boys: we went out together, we made out, as they said then”. You said that one of the great compromises of your life was getting married in church. “For me it had no meaning, a nuisance. I accepted to do it, precisely, because it was not too important. But to the parents, mine, and above all those of Aldo, who were Catholics, it was pleasing”. Were you wearing white? “I had a turned-up coat: it was wartime, there were no wedding dresses”.