Gustavo Rol's phenomenology is essentially divided into two categories: on the one hand we have what he called experiments, on the other a vast anthology of wonders of all different kinds. The experiments were carried out around a table, in his own home or at someone else's home. The number of people present ranged usually from five to ten. The "work tools" were generally extra strong sheets of white paper and a normal deck of cards. Both the cards and the paper were often brand new and still newly packaged. At times one of the people present would bring the paper or cards from their own home or buy them new. Only through the use of these two simple tools, which all those present used in a casual manner according to the subject of discussion, Rol would create numerous variations along the lines of a pre-established background scheme, just like a jazz player would do while improvising a new tune, on top of an unmistakable jazz background. The greater the harmony between the participants, the better the "music" being played would be
Remo Lugli author of the book entitled Gustavo Rol. Una vita di Prodigi [Gustavo Rol. A life of prodigies, Mediteranee Ed.], has been witness to many of these meetings and he hereby gives a faithful description of a typical evening of experiments: «The evenings were normally divided into two parts: the first comprised a normal conversation then followed by experiments. The conversation would last about an hour; Rol would generally start the conversation tackling philosophic or topical subjects. Alternatively he would start by talking about his youth (...). Occasionally there were also evenings during which he preferred to joke, forget serious talks and tell funny stories. He knew he was amusing. Suddenly, usually around 23:00 hrs, he would end the first part of the evening. Rol would suggest that we leave the armchairs and sit around a table which was always covered by a green cloth, green being his favourite colour, the colour which gave him the inspiration for his first experiments (...). The paranormal atmosphere, let's say, would warm up with the cards. In front of him he would line up nine decks of poker cards, each with a different back in colour and design, almost always new, since the intense use would easily deteriorate them. Alternatively they were to be safely put away since they had been "witnesses" of a particular experiment during which one or more scripts would appear in the card suits without his direct intervention. Occasionally what would happen, would be that in front of a perfectly newly sealed deck of cards, he would gain his inspiration from that and begin the evening from there: he would in other words choose a card while the deck was still closed and put a personal sign in pencil on the chosen card without touching it (). He seldom handled the cards, he always asked the participants to mix and cut the decks. () Rol's experiments with playing cards - were experiments not <<games>>, it was important to bear this in mind, they were often carried out in quick sequence like a pyrotechnic explosion. Beautiful and elegant, one would remain astounded but at the same time would be left with a feeling that it was something natural and easy. For example: he would ask someone to shuffle seven out of eight decks of cards, and from an eighth deck he would ask someone to choose a card, let's say the seven of spades. He would pass his hand along the back of the seven decks of cards lined up before him and then he would lift the first card from each deck: they would all represent the seven of spades! Alternatively: he would lay out the cards like a fan with the backs showing and he would let his index finger glide along in a arch like manner, like the second hand of a clock. He would say "tell me when to stop". As soon as he was told to stop, his finger would lower onto the card beneath his finger and he would extract that card. Let's say it was the three of cubs. In front of him he would have the seven decks of cards preventively shuffled, all with the figures covered. He would pick a deck and with a single gesture he would spread out the deck so that it would form a straight line. All the cards would have their back showing except for one: the three of cubs. As the participants were still showing their amazement, Rol continued spreading out all the remaining six decks one by one, uncovering in the same way the three of cubs for each deck».
The first book to talk about Gustavo Rol in a profuse manner was Gusto per il Mistero [A taste for mystery], (Sonzogno Ed.), published in 1954 and written by the author Dino Segre, his pen name being Pitigrilli. Here are some of the experiments he witnessed: «I had firstly promised some roman friends of mine that I would introduce them to Rol. The first reaction of this strange man was to say no. But then, to avoid displeasing a friend, he rectified his decision by replying: "As long as they don't ask me to carry out experiments".
«One evening, in the house of the journalist and painter Enrico Ganieri-Gec. () Following a few experiments Rol said: "Gec, you are a nice person; up to now you have seen first and second
|degree experiments. I will offer you something more. Choose any deck of cards, and a keep tight hold of it in your hands. Repeat after me" (and he recited a formula which I shall not repeat in writing). The journalist repeated the formula and all the cards were projected into the air in a fan-like shape as though they contained explosive.
"Now pick a card: what is it?"
"Ten of spades" replied Gec.
"What card would you like me to transform it into?" asked Rol.
"Ace of hearts", replied the journalist.
"Fix your eyes on the card and repeat these words" and Rol pronounced a phrase. Gec repeated after him, turned pale, and had to sit down. The card he was holding in his hands faded and turned grey, a pale pink mark loomed into sight at the centre, turned red, a heart appeared. We called our friends who were playing bridge in the room next door, and the lady of the house who was showing a friend of hers in her bedroom some of her last purchases. No one knew about the experiment, but everyone agreed, upon being asked "what card is this?", that the card was an ace of hearts; exactly like the ace of hearts in a normal deck of cards».
«One evening, while in Lawyer Lina Furlan's office, Rol invited Prof. Marco Treves, member of the Academic Staff of the University of Turin and Manager of the Turin mental hospital. "In this box" Rol said "I will put a piece of paper folded into four parts and a piece of pencil lead (he showed us the white paper and the lead). I will close the box. All of you should now put your hands on the box. Now professor, say any sentence that comes to mind". The Professor recited a verse from Dante's Inferno "Amor che a nullo amato amar perdona". "Lift your hands away from the box, open the box and read", said Rol. The verse was written on the piece of paper».
A good description of the experiments carried out with cards can be found in the 26th January 1970 publication, of the magazine Quaderni di Parapsicologia [Copybooks of Parapsychology], directed by Doctors Piero Cassoli and Massimo Inardi from the Bolognese Centre for Parapsychologic Studies. Hereby are a few experiments commented by Dr Cassoli: «Rol asked me to choose, shuffle and cut a deck of cards in front of me. He was sitting at more than one meter distance from me; he then asked Dr B.'s brother to pick a card from a deck. "Throw it up in the air and let it fall" he said. The card fell face down. "Put it on the table as it is". "Pick another card now and throw it up in the air". This time it fell face up: it was the ten of hearts. Rol turned to me and said: "Throw your cards on the table, go on, as they are!" I threw them making them glide one on the other. They were all face down. In the middle of the deck only one card was turned face up: the ten of hearts».
«Rol gave me a deck of cards to shuffle and cut. I put it in front of me. With another deck and using a different technique, I was then shown the four of hearts. Rol told me to lay my hand on my deck of cards, close my eyes and try and see, visualise, a green four while pronouncing the words 'Hamma Hemma'. Having done that, he said: "Cut the deck". I opened my eyes and cut the deck. I cut the deck exactly where the four of hearts was, turned face up, in other words with the card and suit both visible, while all other cards were facing down».
«He asked me to choose a deck of cards, he asked me to shuffle the cards and cut the deck, then he asked me to say a number, for example 20. He then asked me to take away 20 cards from the top of the deck, and to create a few smaller decks with the remaining cards. He then asked someone else to choose one of these decks (he never touched the cards, which were in any case too distant for him to reach). He then said to me: "Say a number!" "I say 8" - "Choose the first eight cards from the deck indicated" - So I did - " Now place one card in the middle and four around it" - and again I did - "Put one hand on the card placed at the centre" - so I did - "Close your eyes and think intensely about the colour green say after me Hamma Hemma (and other words I cannot remember) now gather the four cards you placed in a circle" - I gathered the four cards - "Now let us see the cards". They were a beautiful poker of aces».
«Rol asked the landlady to choose two books randomly. She handed over to him: Cesare Pavese "Lettere 1924-1944" and, always by the same author "La bella estate". At first he seemed dubious that the experiment would work; he leafed through one of the books, the first to be precise, as though he wanted to take "possession" of it, and all for a few minutes; then he asked me to express a thought, any thought, or wish. I said out loud: "I wish I could return to Turin". Rol picked up a deck of cards, lay it on the table with the suits face up and well visible. Then starting from the left hand side he started gliding along the cards towards the right hand side in a rather quick manner, after having asked Ms B. to stop him when she wanted. The finger glided three times across the cards and all three times the lady asked him to stop respectively on cards number four, eight, four. Rol then said: "Read page 484". So I opened the book and read out loud the top line on the first mentioned page: "You wish to return to Turin"!! (the full sentence, starting from the previous page was: "I am extremely surprised and amazed that you wish to return to Turin!"). Not long after, while talking during a brief break, Dr. Inardi said "It's three o'clock and I must leave for Bologna at six, there's no point in me going to sleep, otherwise I will not be able to wake up in time to leave. I prefer to spend three hours at the station". Rol said: "Let's try with a mentioned word now, for example "sleep". "Let's see if this word is present in Pavese's second book (he said pointing at the book "La bella estate"). Same technique as before, this time the numbers being ace, two, ace (1-2-1). On page 121 of the book, the first line read "not sleep" (read from the previous page it said "they could not sleep"».
In 1966 a book was published which comprised a collection of episodes and personalities related to paranormal phenomena. The book is entitled Universo proibito [Prohibited Universe], (SugarCo Ed.), written by Leo Talamonti. In this book Talamonti describes a few episodes of his encounters with Rol: «I first met Dr. G. Rol in March 1961. I had called him from Milan on a Wednesday afternoon, and we agreed to meet at his house two days later, therefore on the following Friday, at 21:30 hrs. However I reached Turin before time, on Thursday early afternoon. I had just entered a small randomly chosen hotel in the Porta Susa area, when I received a totally unexpected call from him in which he said: "I changed my mind: let's meet this evening instead, at the same time as we had agreed for tomorrow".
In 1975 Talamonti published Gente di Frontiera [People from the Frontier], (Mondadori Ed.), with an entire chapter dedicated to Rol. In this chapter he tells us about an episode which took place in 1961 when, accompanied by a photographer, he went to see him to carry out a news report: «My improvised collaborator knew nothing about that enigmatic man we were going to interview; imagine how he opened his eyes wide when Dr. Rol addressed him with the following questions as he lead us into his study: "You got married only a few months ago, true? And your wife has dark brown hair and black eyes?". "Yes but how the hell" "Wait. How come you always feel sleepy? Like now, for instance. You suffer from asthenia, and do you know why? I'll tell you why. There are many reasons, first of which there is a chronic appendicitis which you are suffering from: is it not true perhaps?". "Yes, but how do you know these things? Did you ask someone to spy on me?". (...) Now tell me: is it true you won 37.000 lira by playing Totocalcio (football pools)? But you lost a lot more, if you think about all the money you previously spent on that game in all these years. Believe me there's no point in insisting." This time the amazement had even blocked the boy's ability to react, and now the boy no longer looked at Rol, but at me with his eyes wide open, full of unspoken questions». The episode with the photographer continues in the book Universo Proibito: «...after this he lead us to his well supplied library, and asked us to choose however many books we liked, for a certain experiment . We picked a few random volumes in different languages, then we followed him into a larger room, where our host stood at a distance of seven or eight meters from us; and at this point events took place that no positivist spirit would ever believe. Without mentioning the titles, I would randomly point out at the books, that the boy kept tightly held under his arm, asking at the same time our host to "read" a certain page and a certain line; and in turn the photographer would do the same, with the books I was holding in my hands. At every request, Dr Rol, with certainty and precision, would read the exact line pointed out, even with a closed book, after which we would check the exactness of the reading. We never managed to catch him at fault. Furthermore, in order to avoid the possibility that he would mentally impose the page numbers on us, we established the numbers before hand on the basis of the value of certain playing cards chosen randomly from well shuffled decks. We took in turn in choosing the texts; we repeated the experience until we got tired; in the end we surrendered to evidence». And this is how the episode concluded in Gente di Frontiera: «Shortly before leaving our host's house, he sat at his desk and started jotting down something on a piece of paper which he covered with his hand; he then called the young photographer and asked him to say a number. "How many figures?" asked the photographer. "As you wish" replied Rol. "Let's say 753 then", said the young boy decisively. "How strange: I had already written it down", replied Rol showing him the piece of paper. It was true».
The first book exclusively dedicated to Gustavo Rol was published in 1986 and entitled Rol, Il Mistero [Rol, The Mystery], written by the journalist Renzo Allegri, (Musumeci Ed.). Here are a few extracts:
«One day I invited Rol over at my house, to show him a painting I had just bought. I knew he did not like certain kinds of contemporary art, but since he was a great art connoisseur I was interested in his opinion. As I accompanied him into the sitting room I said: "Here's the painting". "I don't like it" Rol said straight away, then he added "I'll scribble all over it". He extracted his famous pencil and pointed it towards the painting while tracing signs in the air. "For Heaven's sake don't do it!" I shouted. "I paid a lot of money for it". I ran towards the painting to see if Rol had ruined it, but I didn't notice any signs. "Thank Goodness you didn't cause any disasters", I exclaimed in relief. "Try taking the painting off the wall", he said again. I took it away revealing a vast scrawl in pencil on the wall. Rol had spared my painting; but at the same time he had manifested his disagreement by writing on the wall beneath the painting».
«Sometimes, Rol even 'writes' on the napkins of those who are sitting at the table next to his [at restaurant]. Though he only does it when he is encouraged by friends, for a bit of enjoyment. One of these, I was told, is the renowned film Director Federico Fellini, who upon travelling to Turin, always goes to visit Rol. Then he invites him out for lunch and without fail, asks him
|Rol's house in Turin|
|to 'write', at a distance, on a fellow-guest's napkin. Rol refuses, saying that he cannot do what others ask him to do, but then he ends up giving in. Fellini chooses stout men, who are eating with their napkin well fixed on a protruding chest. "Write some funny epithet", he suggests to Rol. The sensitive traces a few signs in the air, and at the same time on the calm fellow-guest's white napkin, the most pungent and strange phrases appear. When the 'targeted man' realizes he starts protesting against the restaurant owner. Someone gets angry, starts threatening and during all this Fellini really enjoys himself.
A doctor showed me a table cloth with a rose drawn on it, a rose in a small glass vase. "Rol drew the rose", the doctor said "that was on our table, and gave me the table cloth" he added. "I pointed out to him that it was missing a vase" the doctor continued. "You are never satisfied", said Rol and added "keep the table cloth well raised". So at a metre's distance, witnessed by those present at the table, he traced a vase in the air which immediately appeared on the table cloth, completing the drawing».
«A person showed me a painting and said: "Rol gave it to me. There was a dedication here in the corner, which I proudly showed all my friends. One day Rol and I had an argument over the phone. He became very angry and after having harshly reproached me he said: "I was wrong about you. What I wrote in the dedication on the painting is no longer true, so I'll take it back". I thought with those words he was simply rejecting the content of the dedication; instead as usual, he was talking in real terms. Once the turbulent phone conversation was over, I passed in front of the painting and to my total surprise, I noticed Rol's dedication had disappeared. There was not even a trace of that writing left».
At Mrs V.'s house (a friend of Rol's): «Rol was feeling particularly euphoric. In passing by a table, he saw the bingo scorecards. He picked up the cloth bag containing the numbered pieces, he put his hand in the bag and turning towards me he asked: "Say a number". "Twenty five" I replied. He extracted a number from the bag, it was the number twenty five. "Another number" said Rol again. "Seven", I replied. Rol extracted a seven. And so it went on for seven or eight times without him getting any numbers wrong. Then he turned towards the photographer, and said: "Let's try with you". He repeated the same game with him as well, five or six times without failing. "I'm in good shape today" he said and he then put away the cloth bag with the bingo numbers».
Allegri recounts the dynamics of one of Gustavo Rol's most typical experiments: «He lays out two perfectly white pieces of paper. I observed them extremely carefully: they were common pieces of white paper, taken from an uncut ream. He asked us to fold the sheets a few times and place them at the centre of the table. One of the two sheets was meant to be kept aside separately, countermarked and handed over to me with the request that I put it in my pocket. I checked it and followed his instructions. At this point Rol asked those present to suggest a topic. After conferring we decided to talk about art. "Fine" Rol said. "Let's talk about art". The conversation started with someone saying that art derived from thought, and that separating ancient and modern art or classic and abstract art, is possible. A lady said: "Classic art derives from the expression of the thought ". "It is not exactly an orthodox definition" said Rol, "but it will do". Now let's ask the Treccani Encyclopaedia to give us a definition of abstract art. By using playing cards so that we can let the chance decide, each one of us will choose a couple of two-digit numbers: the first number will indicate the Volume number of the encyclopaedia, the second will indicate the page number of that Volume. So, the first line, at the top of the page indicated by the numbers chosen randomly, should begin with a phrase that logically answers the question: "Where does abstract art come from?". The first extracted card was a 2 and the second a 3: the first number therefore was 23; the second ended up being 22. "So" Rol said "We must check Volume 23, page 22". Volume 23 of the encyclopaedia was handed over: on the first line at the top of page 22 we read: 'from the metaphysics of thought'. This is a good definition" Rol said. "Abstract art derives from the metaphysics of thought. It is a concept that I quite like. Let me see the sheet of paper you have in your pocket", he said turning towards me. I had forgotten about it. I took it out of my pocket and at the centre of the sheet I found written in pencil: 'from the metaphysics of thought': the same phrase as that in encyclopaedia, indicated by the randomly chosen numbers. Rol smiled while observing my astonishment. He then signed the sheet of paper in memory of that moment».
On a different occasion, Allegri arrives accompanied by a journalist colleague of his, also very sceptical, who will be taught a good lesson: «Using the same procedure, Rol asked us to choose one of the two sheets of paper that we had folded and left at the centre of the table, he took one and gave it to my colleague telling him to put it in his wallet. My friend took the sheet of paper, observed it well and then he said: "Instead of this sheet can I put this other one?", he showed a sheet headed paper from our newspaper Gente. Rol smiled. "You don't trust me" he said. "The ream we took those two sheets of paper from was newly bought today in a Turin supermarket. There is no trick. However, do put in your pocket the sheet you brought from your newspaper, by all means".The experiment went on more or less along the same lines as the previously mentioned one. There was a pause as we reached the moment in which Rol lifts the bamboo pencil in the air and starts tracing signs. Rol had a second thought. "Come over here" he said to my colleague. He gave him a pen and while guiding his hand he traced some signs in the air.
|Rol at a friend's house (1975), before the beginning of the experiments.|
Then he sent him back to his seat. "Take the sheet of paper that you have in your pocket and examine it", Rol said. My friend had a contented look. He was certain that on "that" sheet of paper, on that evening, he wouldn't have found any writing. He took his wallet out of his pocket, extracted the folded sheet of paper and he examined it to make sure it was folded in the exact same way as he had folded it. He opened it, looked at it and turned tremendously pale. "What's wrong?" I asked worried. Almost stuttering my colleague replied: "But this is my writing". At the centre of the sheet of paper, the authentic sheet of headed paper, was the phrase pronounced by the 'intelligent spirit', who shortly before the session had appeared before Rol. The sentence was written with my colleague's unmistakable handwriting».
Dino Buzzati, well known writer and journalist, had written about Rol in several occasions on the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. On August 2nd 1964, in an article entitled "The hotel saved by the magician", he tells us a story linked to the Hotel du Cap, in Antibes - on the Frech Riviera, where Rol was one of the guests:
«Mister Andrè let me enter his study, worthy of an old admiral, his memory album of the Hotel du Cap with the most famous European faces and names. While glancing through the pages, Andrè Sella stopped his finger on the picture of a handsome young man. "Giorgio Cini" - he said - "Do you remember? September 1949... And this is doctor Rol, the magician from Turin, you certainly heard about him". "I have, indeed". "I owe my life to him. Giorgio Cini was here together with his girlfriend Merle Oberon [american actress], he had to leave to Venice the day after. But that evening, at dinner, Rol touched my arm and said 'That Cini has death just beside him'. No more, but I knew who doctor Rol was. I was frightened. I found an excuse not to leave The next day I went with Cini to the airport in Nice. His personal pilot was waiting for him. Perfect take-off. While going towards the exit I gazed at the plane as an instinct. A few moments later I saw a wing detaching and the plane falling on the ground. When I reached it I found a horrible scene, nobody could recognize him. The rest you can imagine: Merle Oberon acting like crazy. I was safe"».
On August 6th 1965, in another article for Corriere della Sera, Buzzati reports Federico Fellini's opinion, the five times Academy Award winner who was a Rol's close friend: «Fellini felt bad for two days without eating nor sleeping because he disobeyed an order. "(Rol) made me chose a card. I remember it was six of clubs. 'Take it' he told me, 'Keep it tight to your chest and do not look at it: now, what card would you like me to transform it into?' Mine was a random choice. I told him 10 of hearts. 'Be careful' he repeated 'keep it tight and do not look at it'. I saw him concentrating, intensely staring at my hand keeping the card. Meanwhile I was thinking: why shouldn't I look at it? Yes, he forbad me to do so but he was not that severe. Did he told me on purpose to make me disobey? I did not withstand the temptation. I removed the card from my chest and looked at it. So I saw, I saw a terrible thing that mere words cannot describe, substance disintegrating, a yellow and liquid pulp that was beating and disgregating, a revolting mush where the club signs changed into red grains at this point I felt a hand that took my stomach and turned it upside down like a glove. An indescribable nausea. Then the 10 of hearts was in my hand"».
Buzzati continues: «Rol and Fellini were in Valentino Park [in Turin] in a sleepy afternoon. Rol was unusually moody, he did not talk so much, following some mysterious thought. They sat silently on a bench. Near them a "nurse" was asleep beside a baby carriage. A big hornet started flying over the carriage. "Look" Fellini said "we have to go there and throw that terrible beast away". "No, it is useless" Rol answered, stretching his right hand towards the insect. A snap and the hornet falls on the ground, stroke dead. "Oh, I am sorry" this is what the fascinating and mysterious man said. "I should not have showed you that"».
In an article entitled La magia e la forza di Dio [The magic and power of God], published on the 19th October 1994 on the daily newspaper La Stampa, the journalist Jader Jacobelli, wrote: «I am a frequent visitor of the Valle D'Aosta region and of Saint Vincent in particular. Dr Gustavo Rol () was used to spending his August holidays at the Grand Hotel Billia with his sister. Therefore, even though somehow detached, since he did not like journalists, we had established a sort of long-term friendship. I was thus witness, to the extraordinary series of experiments carried out with new decks of cards that he would ask the barman to supply him. "I prefer the cards - he would say - because they do not pose any problem, as you think there is always a trick behind everything, even though you cannot see it". One of these experiments, which I witnessed more than once, was particularly disturbing. Without opening the deck of cards he would ask someone to mention a number from 1 to 40. He would then put his hand on the deck which seemed to quiver, subsequently handing it over to one of the few people present and asking them to open it and pick the card with the number indicated. The card appeared freshly pierced by a drift».
The well known catholic writer Vittorio Messori on a supplement to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, entitled Sette, published in October 1994, recounts: «On one occasion, we were talking in a large Imperial style hall, while waiting to move into the adjacent room for the "experiments". We ended up talking about that Cottolengo [a charitable institution] often visited by Rol, in which he was considered (so they say) to be a habitual and beneficial presence, and, by common knowledge, a person who lives off no more than what the Providence offers each day. I knew very well he never tried taking advantage of his inexplicable capabilities for selfish reasons. But I thought: why should he not do it for others? "Dr Rol", I asked him, "why, with this capability of yours, which has been tested thousands of times, with the ability of foreseeing which card will come out of a deck of cards or a roulette, do you never think of sending the Casino bankrupt? Why not take away a few thousand millions from those speculators and redirect the money to whoever needs it most?". He smiled and ignored my question. Shortly after, we went to seat ourselves around a large antique table. We sat on the opposite sides of the table, at quite a distance from one another. There was a lot of light in the room: it still wasn't dark outside and the chandeliers had already been turned on. Following a few incredible, though
for him habitual, experiments with cards, he turned to me suddenly and said: "My dear friend, I want to answer your question. Stand up, in the drawer of that small table you will find a ream of paper. Pick a few sheets, examine them one by one, and check the watermark against the light. Then fold them into four parts and put them in the pocket of your jacket and make sure you button up your pocket!" I carried out his instructions and then sat down again. Rol never moved from his chair, we never even touched each other. For one moment he bent his head backwards, "he wrote" something in the air with his famous pencil covered in bamboo, well renowned amongst all his frequent guests. Soon after he told me to take out from my jacket pocket the white sheets which I had checked one by one and which only I had touched. On the innermost sheet, written in pencil, there was the answer to my question: "It would be charity without sacrifice, so it would be worth nothing - (then, an undecipherable word) - written by Rol's spirit". He asked me to hand over the sheet of paper to him: and with the same pencil (though written with a heavier pencil stroke) and handwriting - (it was undoubtedly his "which suddenly appeared in my pocket, almost as though the graphite were airborne) - he wrote: "Property of Dr. Vittorio Messori, 11th April 1989. R." . He rolled it up and handed it over to me in memory of that moment"».
In 1993, Giuditta Dembech published the second volume of Torino Città Magica [Turin a Magic City] (Ariete Ed.). A large chapter of this book is dedicated to Gustavo Rol. Here is an extract:
Rol is talking: «Tullio Regge [italian physicist nominated for the Nobel prize] came to see me accompanied by his wife, by a very famous doctor and another person. They brought a deck of cards; we never used anything belonging to me. During the experiment they asked me to put my hands behind the back of my chair. I never touched anything. Regge shuffled the cards keeping them hidden underneath the table. I told him: "Think of a card. Only think about it, do not look for it in the deck".
Dembech comments: «If there is something that really irritates Rol is being asked to work side by side with a conjuror, it is something which really drives him up the wall. Any experiment coming from him, is obtained through the intervention of the Spirit, of a superior extraordinary human force; why should he have to face professionals in tricks and deception? A few years ago, Silvan [a famous italian conjuror] challenged Rol during a popular television program: "come here, with a little trickery we are able to repeat each one of your experiments " Some time before instead, in private, Silvan called Rol asking him to reveal the secret for the accomplishment of phenomena through the sole use of the spirit's powers. Could he have been resenting the reply?»
In 1995, the year following Rol's death, the previously mentioned book, written by the journalist Remo Lugli, was published. The book was probably the most complete and comprehensive book, as far as wealth of information and anecdotes or as the accuracy with which many experiments had been reproduced, were concerned. Here are a few:
A testimony from Dr. Diego De Castro, former Director of the Statistics Institute of the Turin University: «"Rol, carried out the following experiment in full light, around 13:00 hrs, at my father-in-law's house, where he had been invited for breakfast. Not in his own house. I randomly chose a book, out of a collection of thirty books all bound in the same manner, and three playing cards from a deck that I found in the house. To determine the page number he asked me to put the book on my chest and lead off into some sort of singsong (oh, oh, oh) for a few seconds. He never touched the book, which ended up being one of Victor Hugo's books. In French he then said (I will translate for you): "the valentinese slept with their bears". The first verse of the of the page chosen with the cards said: "the valentinese were sleeping with their bears". The book never left my hold, his choice and the choice of the page were purely casual: I didn't know what book it was. Trick? I ask for an explanation, also because we repeated the experiment with a German book and an Italian book obtaining the same results"».
A testimony from Mr Aldo Provera, entrepreneur and great friend of Rol's: (In a Menton casino) «...as we crossed each room we would stop for a few moments at each table to witness at least one steak and as the croupier made the wheel turn, Gustavo starting writing down a number on a piece of paper that he would hand over to me: "wait a moment" he would say. And once the pellet fell in the slot, I would look at the piece of paper: invariably his predictions would always coincide. "I am not wrong because I am not playing" he would comment».
An episode mentioned to Remo Lugli by Prof. Ferruccio Fin: «We were in six, in my apartment in Matteotti Avenue. We placed a small branch in Rol's hands, which we took from a vase and he threw it against the wall: the branch did not fall, it disappeared. We went into the room next door, to the other side of the wall: the branch had ended up on top of a wardrobe against the wall on the other side"»
An episode mentioned to Remo Lugli by Prof. Guasta: «"During the '80's, Rol came over to my house one evening, which is situated in the Turin hills. Those present were myself, Marisa and him. He picked up a deck of cards and said: "Look: now you will see it bloat up because I want every other card to end up turned". We checked the deck: they were all turned the same way. We shuffled the cards, placed them on the table and without touching the deck, Rol passed a hand over it. The deck started bloating, lifting itself by more than one centimetre and then little by little started descending again. We checked it again and every other card was turned. He carried out the same experiment various times, and in the end he said: "Let's try this one out: try placing a bottle on top of it so that it cannot bloat". And so it did: the deck remained compressed, though in the end those cards which were meant to turn, had turned in any case"».
Lugli says: «"During the Eighties, when Guasta had a dentist surgery in Turin, in Fiume Avenue (at a distance of less than one kilometre from Rol's house), Gustavo would sometimes call him for a chat. Perhaps he would even have quite a few patients in the waiting room, but the pleasure of talking to the friend was such, that he never refused to accept the call. "And from a chat" Guasta would say "it was very likely that Rol would suggest passing on to some experiments. He would tell me to pick up a deck of cards and try throwing the cards on the table as he was used to doing, so that all the cards would be distributed along the same line. "Do you want a card to be turned? Tell me which one". I would for example say I wanted the five of diamonds, to be visible. It was a marvellous feeling. I could not deceive myself: I only made that first move, but he was the one in charge, simply through our phone connection, and he never got it wrong once"».
(One day...) «Rol told me: "You must keep yourself ready to throw the cards and think of a card, without telling me what card it is. Once you have chosen the card, you can throw the deck on the table". I thought of the Ace of Hearts and then I threw the deck of cards and the ace of hearts came out turned the opposite way. On the other side of the phone line, Rol would be laughing contentedly. Then, following the call, I naturally began trying on my own, in the hope that the card would turn, but in vain"».
Always in 1995, Maria Luisa Giordano's book was published entitled Rol oltre il prodigio [Rol beyond the prodigy] (Gribaudo Ed.). As a great friend of Rol's for many years, she tells the story of Christmas 1978 when she went to visit Rol, accompanied by her mother and Rol's sister, Maria: «After having talked for a while he asked me if I wanted a chocolate, I replied no, so he said "Would you like two cherries?". I started laughing; it was the wrong season for cherries. But I was astonished shortly after, since following only a moment of concentration, Rol had managed to make two fresh and delicious cherries appear on a little table in front of me. At the same time in front of his sister Maria, nuts and walnuts appeared. He received a call from some friends who were in Costa Rica and who wanted to wish him a Happy Christmas, when I heard him say "Send me some bananas". All of a sudden on a table in front of my mother two bananas appeared. When Rol finished the phone call and came back in the sitting room he was just as amazed as us, but nevertheless very amused».
«It was a very hot July. We were at the Koelliker hospital visiting a patient: the doctors in charge of this patient gave Rol a prescription to read. Unfortunately Gustavo had forgotten his glasses at home: "I can see them - he said - I can see them, they are on my 'retour d'Egypte' chest of drawers in my study". The window in the room was open and all of a sudden, not only I myself, but all the doctors too, saw his glasses floating in the air, and eventually landing on his knees. Without giving it much importance, with self-assurance he picked them up and started reading the prescription as we all watched him amazed. On another occasion we went with Gustavo to a restaurant which we had never been to before. As we entered, he asked the owner of the premises, who was busy serving the customers: "where did you go on holiday last year?". The lady did not reply as she was too busy, in fact she gave signs of impatience. "I will tell you then, instead" Rol said "open the napkin folded over on your arm". She took the napkin, opened it: inside the napkin it was written the location and dates of the lady's holidays. "But who are you sir, you scare me" she exclaimed frightened».
In 1996 Prof. Giorgio Di Simone published a book entitled Oltre l'umano. Gustavo Adolfo Rol [Beyond Humanity. Gustavo Adolfo Rol] (Reverdito Ed.). Below are a few experiments:
«As usual Gustavo didn't touch the cards. At a certain point each one of us - (we were eleven people!) carefully shuffled his own deck of cards after the 'sensitive' had asked us all to choose a target card: that time we all agreed upon the nine of diamonds. Having cut the eleven decks of cards, they were placed on the green table cloth, in front of Rol who simply folded the cloth over the cards so that it would be closed from his side but stay open on ours with the cards visible (from our point of view). This is where one of the most amazing phenomena took place, a phenomenon that apparently, very few have witnessed, at least in such a clear and evident way, under the full light of a large chandelier: Gustavo passed his hands over the eleven decks of cards covered by the green cloth, but without touching it at the least. His hands were moving at 3-4cm above the cloth and after a few seconds we noticed that under the cloth even the decks of cards were moving. Rol's (magnetic?) pacing lasted very little and the line created by the 11 decks of cards seemed to come to life, it moved as though it were crossed by an invisible wave. Once the cards' activity had ceased and upon lifting the cloth covering the decks, we all noticed that the 9 of diamonds had effectively and <<obediently>> transferred itself to the top of each deck, appearing as the first card. (...) I was not witness instead of a similar event which apparently took place in the Neapolitan Bishop's court, where even 111 (one hundred and eleven!) decks of cards ended up with the same card on top».
One of the people present at one of these experiments tells his experience: «Since I was asked to select from each deck a card with a certain suit and value (I can no longer remember which one), I was astonished and dismayed in seeing that the cards were jumping out of the decks by themselves, like this (he shows us through gestures) one behind the other, and naturally only the required and sought for ones would move, and lay themselves out as Rol wanted!!...»
Mr. Di Simone recounts the following episode: «After having shuffled them myself, he told me to keep two decks of cards, one in each hand, with their back facing up. He asked me to choose a card (mentally), I chose the ace of hearts (rather banal choice, but aesthetically pleasing). He then told me to spread out the cards in the shape of an X. So I did: and the result was an umpteenth marvel: at the point in which the lines crossed, while all other cards remained covered, the two aces of hearts clearly appeared!»
Maria Luisa Giordano published her third book dedicated to Rol in the year 2000, entitled Rol e l'altra dimensione [Rol and the other dimension] (Sonzogno Ed.). The author quotes several unpublished testimonies. Here are a few:
«One evening [Rol] told us he would have liked to write a fiery letter to someone who had offended him. However, while we were talking, he asked me, in an agitated way, to mention a number. "Twenty-eight" I replied. He asked me to go and choose any book and open it on the corresponding page: the first word was "Forgiveness". Naturally he refrained from writing the letter ».
«During an experiment, a friend of my mother's, wife of a well known doctor, saw the ghost of the old caretaker who used to work at her children's school, who had died a few years back. Terrorised as she was, she stood up went to turn the light on and ran towards the front door entrance».
Maria Luisa Giordano recalls some of Arturo Bergandi's testimonials. Arturo was a reliable man and a factotum in Rol's house for many years:
«So many things happened in that house! Sometimes while the Doctor was intent on painting, I would see large steel marbles running across the floors of the various rooms, which even jumped on and off sofas and divans. I was used to anything by now, but this particular thing scared me. I would run to the Doctor (Rol) for help, though imperturbably he would continue painting: "Ah yes!", he would say "that's nothing Bergandi, it only means we are not alone, don't be afraid". Then everything would go back to normal again».
«I was on the balcony with a blacksmith who was carrying out a few odd jobs while holding a hand hammer. At that moment the doctor joined us. I jokingly turned to the blacksmith and told him: "do you know the Doctor could make your toolbox pass through the wall?" The blacksmith smiled in disbelief though curious. So Rol asked the blacksmith to pass his hand hammer over to him and he moved his hand as though wanting to throw the hammer against the wall. The hammer disappeared, we went to the entrance hall, it was lying on the sofa next to Napoleon's statue: it had passed through three walls».
«One evening, I helped the Doctor carry a painting to the car of a lady who had come to visit him, and who insisted on giving him a lift. I accompanied them to the lady's Topolino, parked along the road. The lady a little embarrassed, said to him: "I am sorry, the car is so small, it would be fine for professor Valletta [former Managing director of FIAT industry], but I'm afraid you won't fit". "Don't worry madam", doctor Rol replied, "We will solve everything". He suddenly became smaller so he was able fit to gracefully into the car. I turned pale, my knees were shaking».
«On a separate occasion, I was meant to go and purchase a few light bulbs from a wholesaler. Doctor Rol told me to take tram n° 16: "However", he recommended, "don't take the first one that passes, because its doors won't open". I went to the tram stop and followed the doctor's instructions: tram n° 16 arrived full of passengers shouting and hitting the windows because the doors were blocked».
Giordano recounts the following episode: «The Princess of Savoy, Maria Beatrice, reports this interesting testimony: During the Thirties [to be precise it was 1938 ] my mother (Maria Josè, former Italy's Queen) put Rol to the test, by asking him to find a set of diamond jewellery which had disappeared from the safe of the Quirinale. She called him on the phone, and a few minutes later he had already solved the mystery: "It is in the third drawer on the left of the writing desk in your antechamber". It was true: following mother's return from a visit to the Vatican, someone had placed the jewellery set there, with the intention of putting it back in its place the day after, but eventually that person forgot to do so».
In 2002 another book on Rol was published. The book, written by the journalist Maurizio Ternavasio, was entitled Gustavo Rol. L'uomo, la vita, il mistero [Gustavo Rol. The man, the life, the mystery] (Età dell'Acquario Ed.). The author had never met Rol, in fact this book is a synthesis of what had been written about him until then. Nevertheless, it is a collection of undoubtedly valuable unpublished testimonies. In particular, amongst these, was the episode with Dr. Carlo Buffa di Perrero, a professional and amongst other things also a conjurer. This is how Ternavasio introduces him:
[Carlo Buffa di Perrero] «together with his father, was one of the founding members of the Circolo Amici della Magia [Friends of Magic Club - [the Turin club of conjurors], as well as being a family friend of Gustavo's: their country houses, both situated in the Turin province, stood only a few kilometres distance one from the other. Between the mid Sixties and mid Seventies often both families would meet up either in Cavour at Buffa's House, or in San Secondo at Rol's house, or at his sister Maria's apartment in Galileo Ferraris Avenue in Turin, to give free play to their respective capabilities, which all had deeply different foundations».
[Buffa says:] «"One evening while we were over at Maria's house, Gustavo asked: "what would you like me to do to this deck of cards?". And after having thought about it quite a lot, I replied: 'I would like all the cards to appear torn'. It is known that just like with a ream of paper, it is absolutely impossible to turn into such a state an entire deck of cards with a single movement, and what's more, with a movement that lasts only a fraction of a second. So, after a few moments, Gustavo picked up a closed deck of cards which he had in front of him and he handed it over to me still closed in its original box so that I could open it myself: well, I found all the cards torn. Knowing very well the tricks behind these kinds of games, I was certain it had nothing to do with a simple illusion produced by a conjurer: no conjuring technique could explain, convalidate or account for a phenomenon of that kind. If during my youth I was slightly sceptical in hearing stories about him, from that moment on I had totally changed my mind».
Following is another passage regarding Buffa (there are also others), so that those who are sceptical can take note...
«"in Gustavo's presence, my attention was always at the highest levels, ready to focus on every single small detail. Besides, on more than one occasion, the magic club I belong to put me in charge of unmasking anyone who declared they possessed occult powers, whilst instead proving to be a simple illusionist. Obviously this was not Rol's case"».
The year 2003 has been the most prolific as far as biographies on Rol were concerned. On the occasion of the centenary of his birth, which took place on the 20th June of that year, writers and editors took advantage of the occasion publish new books. Renzo Allegri published Rol il grande veggente [Rol the great clairvoyant], (Mondadori Ed.), an updated version of his previous book published in 1986. Amongst the most interesting new releases, there are some unpublished wonders narrated by Giuditta Miscioscia, a person who had known and frequented Rol from the 1970's:
«Often Rol would resort to his mysterious interventions just for fun. He was amusing, a teaser and he liked keeping the company cheerful. We were guests in one of the most beautiful villas of Turin. The lady of the house had just bought a large marble stoup, made out of one unique piece, of the kind that one would usually find in medieval churches. She had transformed it in a beautiful flower pot holder and had it placed in a corner of the hall. She proudly showed it to Rol. Rol was a great antiques expert. "It's beautiful" he said walking around it and observing it attentively. "How much does it weigh?", he suddenly asked. The cheerful tone in his voice when he asked that question made me realize he wanted to enjoy himself. "I don't exactly know how much it could weigh", the lady replied "but the five workers who placed it in that corner worked hard for several hours to move it". "Oh no" Rol said, "It can't be that heavy". Then turning towards me he said "Give me a hand", then he whispered in my ear "we'll play a joke on her". I wanted to stop him, because there were important personalities in that house, but Rol had already started. He took my hand and squeezed it tight. I remember I felt a strange sensation, as though I was losing my balance, and I was bewildered because I would see myself in two different situations: I was sitting next to Rol, but at the same time I could see myself holding Rol's hand and pushing the stoup. The stoup would move across the floor as though it were made of papier-mâché. We didn't even struggle to move it, it was moving as though it had wheels underneath. Evidently Rol had created a "splitting" for me and him. We had left our bodies and through an astral influence, we were pushing the stoup around the room. Everyone looked at us in amazement. The lady of the house was tearing her hair out in desperation. "Here we go" Rol said laughing. In hearing those words I realized I was returning to my senses. Rol whispered in my ear in piedmontese [north of Italy's dialect] "Did you like it?". "I am feeling confused" I replied, "I feel as though I am drunk". And he kept on laughing in amusement. The lady of the house, terrified and still tearing her hair out in desperation, stood next to the stoup and said: "How could this have happened? It is not possible, no one can move it. How did you manage to cross the carpets without ruining them, it's incredible". She walked around the stoup, and observed every single bit of it. Then, turning towards Rol, she said: "Now who is going to put it back in its place?". "Don't worry", Rol replied, "We will put it back in its place". He took my hand again and I experienced the same feelings as before: both of us sitting down and simultaneously walking towards the stoup and pushing it across the room. But Rol stopped at the centre of the room. "We will leave it here", he said amused. "For Heaven's sake no, it would break through the floor" I replied. But he had taken his decision. We returned to our bodies and the stoup remained there, in the middle of the room. The day after the lady had to call the workers to come and put it back in the corner. "How did you manage to move it?", everyone asked her amazed. "I can't tell you", the lady replied, "or you would think I am mad"».
«One day, a few years before his death, we had an argument. It happened quite often, because we both had rather strong character. During the first days of the Holy Week he came to see me: "I can't spend the Easter period being angry with you", he said. Then he asked me: "do you have any eggs?". "Yes" I replied" could you give me twelve?" he asked again. "They're bad for you" I replied "at your age you shouldn't eat eggs". "No, no don't worry, just take twelve eggs". I took the eggs from the fridge. "Now lay them neatly on the table into three groups of four", Rol said. I couldn't understand why he was asking me to do this, but nevertheless I did what he asked me to do. He watched, with a cheeky smile. "Good, now say out loud "oppi" "oppi", as you used to do when you were a little girl and used to play with the toy soldiers. I felt like laughing, especially because I could not remember ever playing with toy soldiers, but I tried to please him. 'Oppi' 'Oppi' I started saying and those words seem to release some kind of magic force. The twelve eggs divided into three groups, started moving along the table as though they were alive. They turned on themselves and due to their irregular shape, they would lift and lower as though they were marching along. I was speechless. Rol kept on laughing and inciting me "Continue, continue, go on, oppi, oppi". "Oppi, oppi, oppi" I kept on repeating and the eggs would continue marching. In reaching the edge of the table, I stopped giving them a rhythm and they stopped. "Did you see how good they are" Rol said. "Now prepare an omelette". "No, no" I replied in fear, "perhaps there's a live chick inside these eggs". So I threw them away».
«We were returning from Savona to Turin, by car on the motorway. Upon reaching the Turchino Pass we stopped at a motorway cafè for lunch. There was a couple sitting at the table next to ours. She was a large lady. They were already eating their ice creams. They must have eaten quite a lot before that, since the lady was eating her ice cream very slowly and with difficulty, because she was full, but it was obvious she was really enjoying her ice cream. Rol was glancing at her from a distance and his eyes were sparkling. I understood he wanted to have some fun. Once the lady had finished her ice cream, she bent her head on her husband's shoulder and whispered exhausted but satisfied: "I managed to finish it, I eat it all". "Let's get her to eat another one" Rol whispered. "No for Heaven's sake, you'll kill her", I begged him, but it was too late: Rol had already intervened, the lady's ice cream bowl was once again mysteriously full again. The lady's husband, after having heard her say "I managed to finish it", looked at the bowl no longer empty but full of ice cream and said to his wife: "Is that it?". She looked and turned white. "Who brought it?", she asked with a frail voice. "It's yours", the husband replied. "impossible, I have just finished it" she whispered. "You thought you had finished it" the man said laughing. The lady was dismayed. She looked around with a pale face. She started eating slowly, slowly, and with great difficulty. When she had finally finished, she turned towards her husband and with her hands on her stomach she whispered "I've really had enough". "Again, again", Rol repeated in a low voice as though he was giving orders to some invisible presence, and the lady's ice cream bowl was full once again. This time it was her husband who turned white. "it's impossible". I heard him whisper desolated and look around suspiciously. Then he took the ice cream bowl and started analyzing it carefully. In the end he told his wife: "I will eat this one". He started swallowing the ice cream in silence, he was nervous. As soon as he had finished it he sprung to his feet, but Rol had already repeated "Again, again" and the ice cream bowl was full again. "Let's go, there is something strange going on in this place", he said pushing his wife towards the restaurant cashier. Rol was in stitches, just like a young boy».
«We were in Rapallo. We stopped by a shop to buy some fruit. At the top of a pile of pears, there was a larger pear, double the size of the other ones, and as yellow as honey. "How nice" Rol said pointing at it. "Yes it's magnificent" the greengrocer said. "Can I have it?" Rol said with the timid voice of a child. "Certainly", the lady replied. She took the pear and placed it on the weighing machine. In the meantime I was looking around for some other fruit and after a few moments I heard Rol say again with that strange tone of voice: "That pear is so nice, can I have it?". "I have already put it on the weighing machine" the lady replied. "No, no there it is" Rol said. In fact the big pear was still in its place at the top of the pile. The lady took the pear and as she was about to place it on her weighing machine she remained stunned in seeing that the pear was already on the weighing machine. She looked at the pile and then at the weighing machine. She shook her head and said: "I thought I only had one as big as that, instead there were two". "And can you give me that one as well?" Rol said again pointing at the pile. The lady looked, and the large pear as yellow as honey was there dominating all others at the top of the pile. The greengrocer remained silent and still. She began staring suspiciously at the pile of pears and at the weighing machine. "I would also like that one". I laughed, I enjoyed watching Rol being so happy, though I could understand the lady's embarrassment. That lady was scared by now. She had taken the pear straight away and had placed it on the weighing machine. But Rol had immediately pointed out another one "That's enough" I intervened, "five pears are sufficient. They are so big you won't even manage to eat them" and I asked for the bill. But the greengrocer was utterly confused, her hands were shaking, she was about to faint».
«We had been invited in a very elegant house. The owners were well renowned, though also slightly snobbish, people from Turin. Rol wasn't too keen in going but I insisted because they really wanted him to be their guest. However, ever since we arrived, I noticed it definitely was not the kind of environment that would make him feel at ease. Too much etiquette, too much reservedness, too much mannerism. Rol was no doubt an elegant and gentlemanly person, but also simple and warm hearted. I noticed he was nervous because he kept on tapping his fingers on the table and talking monosyllabically. Suddenly he whispered in my ear: "They drink a lot in this house". "Be good now", I replied, sensing he was up to one of his things. The lady of the house, who had noticed Rol's uneasiness, tried talking to him, but he kept on replying evasively. After some time, he whispered in my ear again: "They drink a lot in this house". "It's not true" I refuted. "Look at the table, there are no alcoholic drinks". Rol gave me one of his withering glances. He was holding a deck of cards, he suddenly stood up from his chair. "I said they drink a lot in this house", he said loudly and threw the cards against the wall. A scream was heard from the room next door. The lady of the house rushed into the room; I also arrived with other guests. The cards that Rol had thrown towards the wall had crossed the wall and had fallen on the maid, who was sitting on the divan with a bottle of wine in one hand draining the bottle dry. She was scared and in tears. We returned to the large hall and Rol told me: "I told you they were drinking here". But the unexpected event, had not been appreciated and we left shortly after».
«Once Rol got angry here, in my house. We were still refurbishing it and the freemasons were still here. Amongst these there was a very skilful, though rather unpleasant, young man. They all knew who Rol was, and they all had a great respect for him, all except for this young man. "Rol is only a swindler", he would tell his fellow workers. "He won't be able to take me in with his tricks, I don't believe in anything he does, it's all a trick, a leg-pull". I never understood why he was so resentful and nasty to Rol, when Rol had a high esteem and great liking for him. "That boy is so good", he would say as he watched him work. "He is very smart". I was sorry he esteemed that person that much, while that person was so biased against him, so one day I said: "He is no doubt very good at doing his job, but he makes fun of you, he doesn't believe at all in what you do and always talks badly about you". Rol did not reply. But my words had touched him. A few days later, he came to visit me. Since he could not see the young freemason, he asked: "Where's that skilled boy?". I think he is working downstairs, in the basement", I replied. "He really is skilled and fast", said Rol. "You have a high esteem of him and he makes fun of you" I repeated. "but he is good" Rol insisted as he nervously walked around the room. Then he stopped in that exact place, where the chair was standing. "He is right here below my feet", he said in a serious manner. Then he looked around the room and said: "Hand me over that brick next to the window". I picked the brick up and handed it over to him. He stared intensely at the floor and then threw the brick on the floor. We heard a great thump and the brick disappeared. We heard a shout coming from the basement. We hurried downstairs. The young freemason was sitting on the floor scared. Next to him was the brick thrown by Rol, and he looked up at the ceiling where the brick fell from: there was no mark, not even a scratch on the plaster. "You could have killed me", the young man said angrily and he never came back to work for us».
The following two extracts have been taken from the Italian magazine Chi (21/02/2003 and 28/02/2003) in which the journalist Renzo Allegri has a weekly column dedicated to "mystery". They are only a sequel to the previous stories, not inserted though in his book:
«I was over at his house, with some of my female friends. Rol was feeling a bit sad, I think he must have had an argument with someone he was quite fond of. He started talking about sadness and about things that end, relationships that end, vanishing love experiences. He said they resemble a broken branch, a branch that remains like an incurable wound in the landscape. He took a virgin canvas, glued onto a piece of carton. He showed it to me and to all the other people present so we could examine it and ascertain that it was effectively virgin. Then he placed it on the easel. In front of the canvas, on a small table, he laid the colour palette, a few brushes, a spatula, and a small vase with water, in other words everything that a painter needs. Then he moved away and asked us all not to move from our positions. It was midday, therefore the room was full of light. He walked towards the kitchen where he was preparing something to eat. He joked, told us fun phrases and asked us if we also wanted to eat some soup. He was on the opposite side of the room from the easel with the canvas. We watched him and then the canvas. I knew something extraordinary was about to happen and I was keeping my eyes open on everything. Suddenly there was the miracle. The paint brushes started moving by themselves: they lifted from the palette, dipped themselves into the colours, into the water, they glided along the canvas, they moved just as though they were in the hands of an invisible artist. The work proceeded frantically, even the sound of the brushes on the canvas could be heard. Rol laughed and kept on joking. The phenomenon lasted 5, maybe 6 minutes. Then the brushes returned to their original, motionless position. The painting was finished. Rol said we could look at it carefully. We stood up and walked towards it to have a closer look. The colours were fresh and the landscape reflected his line of reasoning».
«One evening we were here, in front of a painting, on which, at the very centre of a wintry landscape, full of snow, one could see the capital of the San Secondo Madonna. "Gustavo, that Madonna must be feeling really cold underneath all that snow", I said. He started staring at me, repeating "Cold? Cold? Cold?" The Madonna does not suffer the cold". And in that precise moment a fire tongue came out of the painting, a tongue that looked like the blinding flame of an electric welder. I ran towards the painting to see, but there was no sign on the canvass».
Finally, an important book which focalizes particularly on the experiments, is Maurizio Ternavasio's second text on Rol entitled Gustavo Rol. Esperimenti e Testimonianze [Gustavo Rol. Experiments and Testimonies] published at the end of 2003 (Età dell'Aquario Ed.). Ternavasio carried out a vast investigation on people who had met Rol, gathering a great number of prodigies of all sorts, some of which were really remarkable. We hereby propose a brief selection:
[Roberto Sacco says:] «Surprisingly he would let me do everything: he never touched the cards, in fact he would always sit at a distance, and in addition there were always new decks of cards which he would leave up to others to open. One of the most clamorous 'game' took place when whilst holding all the cards in my hands, Rol asked me to mention out loud the card I would have chosen. Having done that, he asked me to slam the whole deck on the table, in order to give it a decisive but not violent blow. Well, the card I had chosen was the only one turned. The most surprising thing was that I repeated the same experiment about twenty times, changing the target card each time, and in each occasion the only card that showed was the one I wanted».
«In front of numerous people, concealing everything with a little theatricality, he would ask: "In what order would you like them to settle?". Whatever the reply, by colour, by seed, one turned one way one the other, in ascending or descending order, the experiment would always work. And he, I would like to stress this point once more because it was the most amazing and inexplicable thing, despite not touching the cards, would be able to rule them strictly and display them as he pleased».
»One fine day my father, who owned a design company, received a pleasant visit from Rol, and he called upon a trustworthy member of the team to meet this extraordinary person. As soon as this person showed up, the sensitive started telling him a few stories about his private life. "How do you know all these things?", my father's colleague asked him. And Rol, without getting agitated replied: "Simple: in your pocket at the moment you have a piece of paper on which all these events are written". Obviously he was right».
«He asked me to choose a card from a deck, then he asked me to pass it, from the tip or from the side, through the thick wooden surface of the rectangular table around which we were sitting. I obeyed: the card seeped from the top to the bottom for three quarters of the length, but it had not intention of slipping entirely through. Upon his request I continued in my attempt without ruining the card. "I'm afraid it won't go any further than this" Rol whispered, "try going underneath the table and pulling it down from there". After insisting a bit, the card passed completely, through the wooden surface, with the exception of a small torn corner».
[Valerio Gentile says:] [At the house of an acquaintance of his who wanted to put him to the test] «..Rol started pointing out a series of books randomly chosen from the house's rich library, and guessing each time the words written on any chosen page».
[Arturo Bergandi says:] «Rol would invite me to choose a book from his rich library, read out loud a passage of my choice, put the book back and pick out of my pocket a piece o paper on which I would find in writing the passage I had just read from the book».
«We were together in the elevator of the house, I cannot remember if we were going down or up. At a certain point he says to me: "Bergandone, how much do you bet I can become tall in no time?". Shortly after his head was touching the light in the lift cabin, then after a few seconds he would go back to normal. I never understood how he could do it: there's no doubt that he was not simply on the tips of his toes, especially because while growing he would stretch in a strange, rather incomprehensible, manner».
Graziella, sitting in the Firenze restaurant, in San Secondo rd., with her husband Gianni and Gustavo. «More or less around half way through the dinner a friend of mine walks through the door and comes to our table before going on to hers. As soon as she leaves us, Gianni jokingly says: "She's a beautiful woman, but she has a rather horsy face". Gustavo nods in approval, then starts writing in the air with his pencil, asking my husband to check the napkin on his knees: in the middle of the napkin it was written the phrase: "she has a rather horsy face". What better demonstration could there have been that there was no pre-established trick?».
[Maria Vittoria Trio, Italian long jump champion] «One afternoon he greeted me in a painter's overall, since he was finishing a painting which depicted a vase of flowers whose petals were falling on the table, he then invited me to sit beside him. Gustavo, in fact, accurately avoided seating his guest in front of him, so that the former would not feel undermined or influenced by his penetrating eyes. "There is something in the painting that doesn't convince me entirely. Don't you agree that the blue petal has an unrealistic shadow? What would you think if I modified it slightly?" "Maybe you're right", I replied, "even though I don't think I am the right person to give a pertinent judgement". The easel with its brush holder was standing at roughly two meters distance from us, not far from the window. Suddenly, in the light of a sunlit room, I saw a paintbrush lift itself and carry out the changes Gustavo was mentioning moments before. I still now get the shivers when I tell people of that episode. Yet I have always been a rational person, detached and by nature rather diffident. What Rol did, made my blood freeze: after assisting to phenomena of that kind I was no longer able to carry out a decent conversation. I could only listen and that was it, I would reply monosyllabically, I would feel shaken for quite a long time, almost disturbed by what I had just witnessed happen in front of my incredulous eyes».
[Giovanna Demeglio] «What I have witnessed happened in more than one occasion both at his home and in my shop in Goito rd. After having placed it somewhere, Gustavo would ask my opinion on a painting he was working on at that moment. It would often happen that I would gracefully suggest a few changes of little account, then he would talk about this and that while standing at a distance from the canvas. Once the meeting was over, I would walk closer to the painting and notice that all the changes I had suggested shortly before had been made».
[R.S.] «We were observing a painting portraying a vase with roses, Gustavo was sitting at a couple of meters distance from the easel: suddenly we all realized the paintbrush was moving by itself and was adding some important details to the painting».
«Suddenly, without Rol doing or saying anything I saw without doubt a cork floating in the air from the kitchen to the sitting room, where we were sitting: we were all literally dumbfounded».
[Carla Rolli Casalegno] «Besides myself, in his house, there were other two people I don't quite remember well. After having entertained us with a few card games, he openly admitted that he wanted to dedicate himself to painting. "Now I will try and create a painting in a quarter of an hour". The gloom in the room was brightened by a small light, we were by his side, at a distance of about two meters from the easel on which an untouched canvas was leaning. Just like an orchestra conductor, Gustavo delicately waved his hand in the air, while the paintbrush moved independently leaving traces of colour on the canvas. Shortly after a painting depicting some roses, his roses, appeared».
[Pasquale Pisapia - confectioner] «A boy was holding his watch in his hand, while standing next to the counter, standing at a proper distance he made the watch disappear, then he asked him to look in a sugar bowl with a small spoon. The boy, turned pale, and without saying a word, found his watch at the bottom of the bowl under a thick layer of sugar».
[Chiara Barbieri - in a restaurant] «I was sitting next to him, Gustavo had a portion of salad in front of him, the dressing was missing: with a discreet and quiet snap of his fingers, a few moments later I saw a salt pot move in the air and reach our table».
«He was sitting at the same table in the restaurant, from my position I could see Rol from a sideway point of view. At a certain point he made his upper limb pass through the wall: from one side I could see his hand and forearm up to his elbow and from the other the rest of his arm and body».
[Delfina Fasano - former singer] «We were five or six people at my sister Dina's house, in Raffaello Avenue, sitting at one end of a large oval table. Half way through an experiment with cards Gustavo turns to me and says: "Choose any card and place it wherever you want". I choose the card, I stand up, I place the card behind a vase on the other side of the room, at a distance of eight or nine meters from us. After a few moments, we saw my card flying across the room and ending up on our table».
[Giovanni Paladin - craftsman] «One day Rol entered my shop, he picked up a splinter from a picture frame, about seven or eight centimetres long and warned a worker, who was standing in the most distant room from the one we were standing in, to be careful, because he would have made the splinter, he was holding in his hand, reach him. And so he did, throwing in his direction the splinter from the picture frame, which disappeared without making a noise. I went straight away to the other room, and I saw on the floor what Rol had just thrown shortly before».
[Vittoria Storero] «On one occasion in a gloomy room I noticed a paintbrush moving on its own in front of a canvas, while Gustavo was standing at a distance of three-four metres from it In another occasion I couldn't help screaming. I would like to specify that my husband, at least at first, was rather wary and did not like taking part in meetings during which Rol would carry out one of his experiments. On that occasion, almost as though he wanted to challenge him, Gustavo told him: "I will try to split you in two so that you can face your double". We were in his study, partially lightened by a few weak lights. I suddenly realized that a head like that of my husband was moving along the walls, as though it was a mask without a body holding it. I shouted and asked that the lights be turned on, and so it was, the head disappeared. I am absolutely certain it was not a simple hallucination, especially because my husband, who that night was not able to sleep, had seen what I had seen. On the contrary, he even said that in the exact moment in which the face disappeared, he felt a sort of shock, the kind of shock one would undergo if slapped in the face».
[G.M.] «It must have been 1993, I had just moved over to Turin for work reasons. One Friday evening during the winter season, my father and I had been invited to a party which was to be held in an elegant apartment in the Crocetta zone. The twenty people present, all older that myself, were crowding around a man of a certain age, a rather tall and distinguished gentleman who looked like an important company director. Some called him master, many paid attention only to him. I sat alone on a divan for a drink, that gentleman comes over and sits in front of me on another divan at a distance of about two metres, then he starts staring at me. I blink, he disappears: he was standing up, on the opposite corner of the room. A few seconds later, with just enough time to blink again, the man was sitting in front of me again on the usual divan. I was scared, I thought that I was suffering from hallucinations or that I had drunk something that didn't do me any good, truthfully speaking I am abstemious so I had drunk only a coke with a slice of lemon. I stood up, I said goodbye to my father and to the owner of the apartment and I decided to go back home as quickly as possible. Only after some time I realized who that strange man really was».
Many doctors made use of Gustavo Rol's "paranormal" powers. During complex surgical operations, they would ask for his assistance, which in some cases would be decisive. There are also many testimonies of recovery which occurred through his help.
In his book: Gustavo Rol. Una vita di prodigi [Gustavo Rol. A life of Prodigies], Remo Lugli mentions Mrs. V.'s testimony: «In 1976 I went with Rol to the Pinerolo Hospital to visit my 60 years old uncle, Goachino Cirino, who had been admitted to the hospital due to an ictus. He had been in coma for three days and the doctors said there was very little hope he would survive. Rol stayed at his bedside for a while, he placed two fingers on his forehead and repeated a few times: "Tomorrow you will be feeling better". We returned to Turin and on that same evening his daughter, my cousin, called me saying that one hour after we left her father had started recovering consciousness and saying something about a cheque in his pockets. Then he eat some vegetable soup. He recovered and lived for ten other years».
Mrs. V. again: «One night my daughter Manuela, at the time ten years old, started crying and vomiting. The morning after I called Rol and told him what had happened. As I was trying to end the explanation he interrupted me and shouted: Don't move her, take her to the hospital straight away: Manuela has peritonitis". It was as though he had felt it from my voice, not through what I had said. It was nine o'clock. The Doctor I had called arrived late and my child arrived in Hospital around midday. At one o'clock she was taken in the operating theatre. It was true: peritonitis. The surgeon then said: "If we had delayed the operation by another half hour, your daughter by now would have become an angel"».
In his book: Rol il Mistero [Rol- the Mystery], Renzo Allegri quoted the testimony of Dr. Alfredo Gaito, Rol's personal doctor for years and once Vice President of the Turin Medical Association:
«One day I returned home and my child had a high temperature, above forty. I called the paediatrician who prescribed some treatments. But his temperature was not showing any sign of falling and so it went on for the whole night until the end of the following day. When I returned home the following evening, I saw my wife really worried because our child still had a forty degrees [celsius] temperature and was delirious. I went to see him. He was all red, and burning hot: he had a tremendous fever. Being great friends with Rol I decided to call him. I went in my study and called him from there. I said: "My boy has a really high fever and we haven't been able to make his temperature drop". "Put the phone down, I'll see to him" he replied. Rol put the phone down. I thought he had cut the conversation short because he was busy. I went to my boy's bedroom to tell my wife about the phone call, when I realized my boy's face was no longer as red as before. I touched his forehead and it was no longer hot. I measured his temperature and I found it normal: at less than 37°c».
Maria Luisa Giordano in Rol e l'altra dimensione [Rol and the other dimension]: «I received a call from Bergamo, from the nephew of a lady in a deep and irreversible coma for many days, who unfortunately had a rather unfavourable prognosis. He begged me to put him in touch with Rol. They only talked over the phone and Rol weighed his words carefully, he told him he was sure about one thing only, that at midnight of the same day his aunt would have opened her eyes again. As far as the rest was concerned, he assured the boy that he would have done all that he could, and that he would pray, concluding with the words: "We are in God's hands". At midnight the lady opened her eyes and recovered consciousness, not only, but in no time she recovered fully. The doctors were astonished».
In the same book, Dr Barbieri's testimony: «I witnessed another episode, in the La Pace restaurant, concerning the extraordinary recovery of a tracheotomised person. Rol was eating two tables away from mine, at his usual round table in the corner. He was sitting with some doctors I knew by sight and a tracheotomised man. Rol put his hands on the man's throat and that man sprung to his feet screaming: all the bandages and wounds had disappeared. Rol then realized, that in the midst of the crowd in the restaurant, there was someone who had seen him at that precise moment. He turned towards me and put his index finger in front of his mouth to impose on me to keep quiet. I did exactly as he said. The following evening I met him in the restaurant and, as though nothing had happened, I said (referring myself to the episode of the day before): "Doctor, why does a man like you who can heal everyone, not do so?" He smiled and replied: "Because it is not in everyone's karma, to be healed. God uses illnesses to make us understand many things. That man could be cured and so he was"».
Maurizio Ternavasio, in Gustavo Rol. Esperimenti e Testimonianze [Gustavo Rol - Experiments and Testimonies], contributed in giving his important documentation on this subject:
[Bergandi - upon returning from an errand for Rol] «I returned to his place limping, due to an infection which had been tormenting me for quite some time, and was beginning to spread rapidly along the whole length of my leg. Roughly a week earlier, in fact, in the attempt of eliminating a corn from my foot that was bothering me, I had cut myself deeply with a razor. Rol realized there was something wrong and asked me to take my sock off to show him. He had barely touched my hand, when I felt a sudden hot flush followed by a cold feeling. Moral of the story: after not even half an hour, the swelling had started disappearing, together with the pain that until then had been numbing my limb».
[Franca Ruscalla] «I remember for example the episode of a close friend of mine who had been hospitalized in the Bidone Clinic, and was waiting to be operated on for lung tumour. Well, despite the urgency of the operation, the surgeon could not proceed due to a persistent high fever which never seemed to disappear. One day Gustavo went to pay him a visit in hospital, and as he used to do in these cases, he touched him lightly: Well I tell you, his fever disappeared immediately, my friend was operated on and he is now back in good health».
«I was meant to be attending a christening, but I was suffering from one of those terrible head aches, that block you from doing anything. Gustavo called me for a chat, I tell him about my headache and he replies: "Move the receiver away from your mouth, place it for a moment on your head, and you'll see you will no longer have a head ache". And so it was, and what's more in no time at all: as soon as the phone call was over, my head ache was no more than a distant memory».
[Sandro Rho] «It was autumn 1981 My grandmother, who at the time was 74 years old, suffered terribly from neuralgia of the trigeminal nerve, which no doctor had managed to cure despite the numerous consultations. One day Rol and my father talked to each other over the phone: "You sound worried" says Rol. "In fact I am", my mother in law is dying, and two injections of morphine are no longer of use". "Don't worry", replied the sensitive, "tell your son to come and pick me up straight away and we'll see what we can do". I left immediately and upon reaching Silvio Pellico rd. I noticed a pleasant man with a great charisma. However, I was unable to look at him straight in the eyes, because of his piercing glance. We arrived. at my grandmother's house and for half an hour we talked about this and that. Suddenly, as he sat on the divan talking to my mother, still totally dressed, he grabs his right foot and casually turns it behind his head. Then after having amiably entertained the nurse by complimenting her, he says: "I am ready now, we can start". He asks my mother to grasp with her right hand my grandmother's left thumb, he does the same with my mother's left thumb, and then he starts blowing for at least five minutes on my grandmother's right thumb to close the circle. In the meantime I was watching him: he looked exhausted, pale and sweaty. That day there was no need to give my grandmother a second dose of morphine, since after about ten similar treatments she recovered fully, so much so that she eventually died ten years later but due to another illness».
[Elena Ballarati] «Gustavo looks at me and says: "You have one kidney lower than the other, but it will never cause you any particular trouble". There and then I was astonished: I had never had any problems before and even in occasion of recent births no anomalies were diagnosed. Seven years later I suffered from renal colic: as I was being cured, I was told that my left kidney was ptosic from birth, in other words undoubtedly lower than the other».
Corrado Madaro is a dentist, who after meeting Rol had a serious eye accident caused by the unhooking of a tie rod from the luggage rack of his car. «Considering the seriousness of the lesion, the doctors had planned a surgical operation for the enucleation of the eyeball. Gustavo would come and visit me in hospital quite regularly: he would pass his hand across the lesion and I would feel a beneficial fluid flowing. After each visit I would feel progressively better, until the hypothesis of the enucleation had been set aside completely. A couple of years later I underwent a crystalline graft in Lyon, solving definitely al problems with my eye. I am sure that without Rol's intervention the situation would have taken a turn for the worse».
What has been reported in this page is a rather extended synthesis, of Gustavo Rol's many possibilities. Anyone interested in broadening their analysis of this character, can refer to the books published so far (see the books section "Libri").