Mezzosoprano Lucia Valentini Terrani was diagnosed with leukaemia twenty years ago, in 1996. Her colleague and friend José Carreras, who had been diagnosed with leukaemia in 1987 when he was given a 1 in 10 chance of recovery, had been successfully treated with a series of therapies and a bone marrow transplant at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
So a hopeful Valentini Terrani went to Seattle for treatment, but it was there that she died, in June 1998, of complications following a bone marrow transplant. She was 51.
Last week I visited the Casa Lucia Valentini Terrani in her home town, Padua. It is a modestly laid out hotel with simple décor but it has a large lift which could take a stretcher… which is exactly what it’s for. The structure was built to receive patients who need regular therapies at the local hospital or for the families of those who are in the hospital. They can stay at Casa Valentini at low rates, and their stay is supplemented by the higher rates paid by visitors to the town: tourists, workers, students.
Alberto Terrani, Valentini’s husband, says,
While Lucia Valentini was in America for treatment she was shocked by the fact that relatives of patients who were with her in the hospital, were spending the nights in their cars as they couldn’t afford the cost of renting a room.
So she asked her husband to pay for a hotel for those who were sleeping in their cars, which he did throughout her stay up until her death. This is why the hospitals in Padua, and the many sponsors of the project, wished to dedicate this ‘casa’ to Lucia Valentini Terrani.
For €30, a patient or their relative can stay at Casa Valentini Terrani in a single room with a private bathroom, wifi, tv and breakfast. Other guests can stay, paying not much more.
A small piazza near Padua’s Teatro Verdi has also been named in her honour: Piazzetta Lucia Valentini Terrani.
Booking and information www.casavalentiniterrani.it
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.