Now naturalised British, Giovanni Michele Maria Dalla Valle was born in Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza, Italia) on 9 October 1963.
In the 1980s, he obtained his Liceo Classico (classical high school) leaving certificate, specialising in History and Italian, then took a degree in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Padua. In 1991, he served as lieutenant in the medical corps of the Alpine Regiment in Belluno. Having completed his military service, he emigrated to the United Kingdom. Subsequently, he specialised in psychiatry at St. Mary’s Medical School and at St. Thomas’s, Guy’s and King’s College in London. In 2001, he published B@bylon Apocalypse(pub. Alberti), inspired by the first Gulf War, which was favourably reviewed by L’isola del Tesoro, a well-known Italian magazine specialising in cinema and literature and by Il Corriere della Fantascienza. He was also given a good write-up in the January 2002 FantaBook, (click on “novita’ in libreria Gennaio 2002”) alongside authors of the calibre of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Stephen King, Peter Straub and Ken Follett.
He has always been deeply interested in the Middle Ages and in 2003 devoted himself to historical novel writing, beginning a saga featuring twelve crosses, each set with a unique jewel. The Ruby Cross has taken him three years to write, involving trips to Spain and visits to a number of European libraries, because his medical duties take up so much of his time. Meanwhile, in 2004, he updated his literary skills by attending courses in novel writing and script writing at Morley College in London. And in 2006 he qualified as a teacher of Italian at the highly regarded International House in London. The author is very fond of sport, particularly fencing, which he practises regularly (bronze medal for the foil in the 2006 World Health Games). A practising Catholic, he was educated at the Antonianum Jesuit College in Padua.
The author has a great deal of professional experience, embracing all the psychiatric disciplines. Since 2006, he has worked in the field of forensic psychiatry and, on 9 October 2007, was appointed to the permanent post of forensic psychiatrist at the Centre for Forensic Mental Health, in a medium security unit for the treatment and rehabilitation of persons with strong psychopathic and criminal tendencies.
The author’s thinking has been shaped by his practice of forensic medicine, which has led him to embrace Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s thesis that man is born good.
Meanwhile, his private life is devoted to bringing up his son Matteo, who attends a college specialising in information technology. They live in an old cottage in the Norman town of Tonbridge (Kent). Matteo is now thirteen, speaks three languages fluently and is a devotee of fantasy literature. He often helps his father as IT and editorial consultant (in The Ruby Cross, the physical features of Domnus Petro and some of the battle scenes were decided on together).
Since 2007 the author has been a member of the Society of Authors, the historic association founded in 1884 to protect the rights of British Authors
The arms of the La Valle family consist of a red lion on a green field with a silver diagonal bar.
They feature in a 18th-century register, now kept in the Civic Library in Belluno.
Other references can be found in the Historia di Cividal di Belluno by Giorgio Piloni (pub. Rampazzetto, 1607). All that remains of the original castle are a few ruins overgrown with vegetation.
In the middle of the last century, almost all the stones were taken for building materials. Nothing is now known of an ancient sword found at that time.
The author and his son Matteo at a drama reconstruction of the Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957),
preformed recently in the keep of Tonbridge Castle.
It may be worth setting down a few notes on the family history, as the myths, intrigues and legends narrated round the fire from generation to generation were bound to influence, albeit indirectly, the conception of the Twelve Gemmed Crosses saga.
The family comes from the Belluno area and goes back a very long way. The castle of La Valle (Agordo) is recorded as early as 1148. Of Lombard origin, Agordo later came under the control of the Franks until 923, when the last Carolingian king, Berengar I, was paying tithes to the bishop of Belluno. For this reason, it is thought that La Valle may simply be an Italianisation of Laval, the name of the extensive family of vassals who, according to legend, had been part of the Frankish court since the time of Charles Martel (Duchemin de Villiers, Laval, 1837-43 and Maucourt de Boujoully, Laval, 1886).
The original castle at Laval (Mayenne, France, photograph on upper left) dates from 818. The De Lavals later intermarried with the Normans and Hamon De Laval tookpart in the Battle of Hastings, 1066, alongside William the Conqueror. Some sources maintain that the De Lavals originated from Spain, and certainly the ancient palace of the De Lavalle family still exists at Valle, in Cantabria (see photograph in lower left). According to the seventeenth-century historian Teodoro Amayden, members of the Spanish family then moved to Rome and their descendants include Cardinal Andrea Della Valle (whose palace, church and theatre still exists) and the sixteenth-century writer Pietro Della Valle, who wrote about his travels in the Orient and discovery of the Persian cat.
The De La Valles (later the Della Valles) of Agordo embraced the Ghibelline cause during the 13th century (F. Tamis, Storia dell’Agordino, Belluno, 1985), and ended up in the pay of Ezzelino da Romano, a vassal of the Emperor Frederick II, for the courage they showed during the defence of Belluno (1248). Aicardino and Lanciloto Della Valle were prominent in city affairs during the 13th century. Enrichetto was a judge of matters relating to the imperial court and ambassador to Bohemia in the 14th century. The author’s branch of the family descends from Castegnino Della Valle, following the sale of a farmstead to his heirs at the end of the 13th century
(by a will made on 23 January 1288 at the castle of Primiero). His direct forbears were connected with the farmstead of Col dei Mich, at Zorzoi di Sovramonte (very close to Primiero and bordering on Agordo territory), where the succession is documented from father to son, right down to the author’s great-grandfather Gerolamo. “Della” mutated to “Dalla” in the course of the 19th century, in the records of the first municipal registers. At Zorzoi di Sovramonte, the family was involved in woodworking and lived prosperously for many centuries, but was hard hit be the economic decline triggered by the fall of the Venetian Republic and even more bythe region’s annexation to the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. Thus, in 1894, now reduced to poverty, the Dalla Valles in the person of great-great-grandfather Vittorio (a “black-tie” socialist) decided to move to the lowlands. In 1907, grandfather Attilio was born at Nanto (Vicenza). After working as a blacksmith and bicycle mechanic, he set up a jewellery business, with his brothers, which restored the family fortunes. In 1945, Attilio, of Liberal persuasion, risked execution by the Fascist militia for having dared make fun of them. He was saved from the firing squad by the family doctor. The anecdote is often told in confirmation of the proverbial “plain-speaking” (sometimes verging on insolence) of Dalla Valle family members.
This is the front of the XVIth-XVII Renaissance palace (at least what I saw in 2003) that is in Valle, Cantabria, where the saga starts and, according to my research, we all come from (even if most of the family then moved to next door Gulf of Biscaya, and from there to France, Italy and eventually, see links at the bottom, to Peru and South-America).
The palace is really beautiful but it obvioulsly needs works.
Mountain Southern Front of Amaya.
Where I set up the seize of Amaya ( Ch 23-25), That very famous roman oppidum doe not exist anymore and you can only see a little village of few houses and even a school today
But today's little village (hardly shown even in the maps) is a pathetic shadow of the splendid fortress ruled by the Duke of Amaya to defend access to Cantabria from centuries. From this picture you cannot believe that was one of the richiest Hiberian towns in Roman Empire.
It is mentioned in Ch XII. Another lovely
pre-romanic church that I would like to restore, shoud we become succesful with our dinasty saga.
The Monastery of San Martin
( today San Toribio)
where Fafila , Pelayo's son and Froliuba, the hero- fallen-in-battle Teodomiro's daughter, are supposed to marry. This still exists today and was also visited by Pope Johannes Paulus II. It is an important place of pilgrimage and it really has the special Salvation Door I mention in the romance.
Santa Maria de Flebenia
( today Lebeña)
Which I converted into the abandoned benedictine Chapel of the Angels of Love, in the romance. In reality it was built in 925 and it is one of the oldest and most beautiful samples of mozarabic architecture in Spain. I really love that litlle Chapel ( which is hidden in the mountains and I just found by chance). There is a romantic story behind it. The nobel Conde Alfonso ( and his wife Justa) who funded it did try to translate the body of San Toribio from the next door monastry ( above pic 46) but when his servants and his soldiers tried to bury the relics they all fell blind. Conde Alfonso then understood God did not want his holy Toribio to be removed and so Conde Alfonso donated the new church ( Santa Maria) all his possessions and even his and her wife's body to the monastry of San Toribio. Isn't it a great tale? How can one not write a romance on such a richness of religious passion and devotion?
This is about the valley where mountains have eyes as if they are those of the Giants Ezla Legend wants tied those giants for ever to the walls of the mountains as punishment for their betrayal of goddess Astyr ( creator of Asturias) with the beutiful nymphes Xanas.
And its gloomy and dark waters scared even me. There were supposed to appear the Xanas , to seduce men and then devour them!
The source of the Deva
where bad Munuza , always craving for women, will end in terrible agony , devoured by the Xanas
Puente de la Reina
But in fact is today the Embalse de Riano. However the ancient medieval bridge still exist, if you watch it carefully. I was lucky to see it, because you can only see it when the lake is dry.
The church of Santa Cruz de la Victoria
Built by Fafila, son of Pelayo, possibly in 737, in honour of his father and the victory of Covadonga ( dated 728, but in my reconstruction possibly 714).
The splendid scenarios of Covadonga, I
The splendid scenarios where I set up the final battle of Covadonga. Here I imagined the last cavalry charges against the Saracens
(Christian riding down the slope)
When the fog falls, it looks really dark and ghosty. It is there I set the return of the Ruby Cross, once for good escaped to the hands of the Evils.
Scenarios of Covadonga, II
I hope these photographic bits will excite you on imagining a part of the places where the whole saga starts Those scenarios are so beautiful that I have made a power point presentation and I have been invitited byschools to give talks on the history of Asturia and the birth of Spain.
Of course they don't know how much hard work our ancestors did behind all that grace! Should we be telling these young generations why they are today so lucky and well off?
Perhaps , by reading this saga, people will learn to love history and their ancestors far more then they do today. And that would be my main satisfaction, after all
NORMAN SET UP FOR THE EMERALD CROSS: GIOVANNI & MATTEO
De Laval family had an extraordinary influence on the historyof France , starting from XIth century, with Hamon De Lavalfollowing William the Conqueror in England (1066).
Since I have found other evidence that the first lords De Lavalcame from Spain, I have then postulated the chance that theycould have been recruited in VIIIth century for their loyalty infighting against the Moors ( the Coat of Arms of one branch ofSpanish De Lavalle carries heads of beheaded Moors).
July 711 A.C.: Defeat of Roderic, last King of the Visighots, near Gudalete River, by the troops of Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad (illustrated by Franco Spaliviero, leading professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Verona, Italy )
PUERTA DEL SOL
Simon Knight was born in Bishop's Stortford in 1948. He studied French and Italian at Trinity Hill, Cambridge, where he also qualified as teacher. The early part of his career was spent teaching English as a foreign language, including time spent in Italy and several years in Madagascar. His wife , Adelaide, is Malagasy (pictured with him in Milan, Italy).
They have four daughters and are currently expecting the birth of their third grandchild. For the last 25 years, Simon has made his living as a freelance translator, specializing in historical and cultural material. He is Christian, a member of the Community Church in Bishop's Stortford, which belongs to the New Frontiers international family of churches, where he and Adelaide help run a marriage course and assist migrants in integrating into life in the UK.
He spent several months working on The Ruby cross , in close collaboration with Giovanni Dalla Valle, one of the most enjoyable translation projects he has undertaken.
Born in S.Germano dei Berici (Vicenza,Italy) in 1957, Franco Spaliviero now lives and works in Verona. Specialized in Anatomical and surgical Drawing at the prestigious Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Bologna, he then developed an impressive career as graphic designer and illustrator ranging from medicine and science to general advertisement, magazines, newspapers, fiction and non-fiction literature.
Spaliviero is well known to major Italian editors like Mondadori, Fabbri, RCS Libri... to American editors such as Walt Disney, EDC Publishing, and to many popular Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, German, French and Finnish editors ( see CV below).
He has also worked for nation-wide spread magazines like Panorama, L'Espresso, Il Venerdi' della Repubblica, fashion magazines such as Amica and Moda e the well known Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.
As a qualified professor of Artistic Anatomy and Special Graphical Techniques, he has been teaching at the Accademia delle Belle Arti ( Academy of Fine Arts) G.B. Cignaroli of Verona for many years. Started in 1987 as lecturer in Artistic Anatomy, since 2003 he has also been teaching Human Figure Drawing, Basics of Morphology and Dynamic Morphology. He has lectured at the International School of Illustration of Venice Teatro and since 1996 he has been showing around the world through I Migliori Illustratori Italiani, a vast calendar of world exhibitions that gathers the best illustrators of Italy.