For Italy, it was a marvelous Olympics. Everyone praised the stadiums, the beauty of Rome, the friendliness of the people. Best of all, the hosts, who won the first gold medal (in cycling), went on to win 13 in all.
The last came in an equestrian event, the Olympic Grand Prix for individual jumping, in a setting that more than any other in the Games provided a happy conjunction of Roman grandeur and Italian derring-do—of the timeless beauty of the lovely park called the Villa Borghese and the flaring skill of Captain Raimondo D'Inzeo.
D'Inzeo awoke at 5 in the morning, breakfasted on biscuits and caff√® latte (a magnificent mixture of hot milk and strong coffee), and then drove from his apartment on the Via Panama to the army stables near by. There the wiry, thin-faced champion horseman slipped a lump of sugar to his 10-year-old chestnut gelding, Posillipo (named for a fashionable quarter of Naples) and whispered some advice: "I suggest that all goes well today."
At 6 a.m. D'Inzeo was allowed to study the taxing Olympic jumping course for the first time. At 7:30 he was in competition, clucking Posillipo over the first of the 14 obstacles. Despite slippery turf from which the morning's dew had not yet been burned, and deceptive shadows cast in the slanting sunlight by fat-topped umbrella pines and spirelike cypress trees, the performance of horse and man was faultless. Coming away from the last jump, D'Inzeo thought for a moment that Posillipo had ticked the top rail. But he looked back, saw the rail was still in position and exulted to his mount: "Go on. It is done."
Then Posillipo received "quite a lot of sugar."
In the afternoon, after a steak and spaghetti lunch, Raimondo made his concluding ride, and committed a number of faults. But all challenges failed, and he finished first. His brother Piero was second, and for an hour and a half ecstatic Italians kept them busy signing autographs.
The warm afternoon sun, the green background of the park, the strong horses, the beautiful women in the audience, all contributed to the perfection of Italian happiness.
Raimondo lifted a glass of champagne with his wife and the Baron and Baroness Morese, Neapolitan breeders of Posillipo. If the waiter had brought another split, we would have lifted one, too—to the D'Inzeos, to sprinter Livio Berruti, to cyclist Sante Gaiardoni, to Rome, to Italy.