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the New Black Intellectual

IN VALBRONA, THE OBSCURE VILLAGE HIGH above Lake Como where I spend my summers, public life gets played out on the front terrace of the Albergo Paradiso. You only really matter here if you are resolutely local, and each year the innkeeper’s English wife becomes more evasive when I turn to “home” affairs, making it plain that that was another country, and besides, the wench has become a signora. If you visit Valbrona you’ll certainly be taken through the pines and cypresses to the edge of the forested escarpment called Belvedere San Giorgio, from where, in the azure distance, you’ll see the two arms of Lake Como meet in that exquisite, antique embrace, the peninsula of Bellagio. Its crowning glory is the great Villa Serbelloni, which the locals call “da Rockafella”—for this is the Rockefeller Foundation’s International Study Center, venue of many cosmopolitan conversations between thinkers,

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