‚ÄčLa Salamandra












I have always enjoyed writing and describing life stories. My own and those of people who have played an important role in my life.Then I was asked to write a touching, true story. About an exceptional woman. And so I did and soon it will be available to everyone. I thank Donato Leone for giving me the opportunity to know the life of his dear mother and for guiding me in the reconstruction of the events and the relationship between them. I leave here a small demonstration of my writing and also an audiobook version of the book which is called "THE SECRET OF ALBA".


from the novel "THE SECRET OF ALBA".

by Sonia Gabriella Milan Patton

  and Donato Leone from the memories of his mother's life



By now I could tell when Mom was trying to sugarcoat bad news. They didn't understand that they could have simply been honest and told me the things that were going to happen soon. But they didn't have the ability and I don't blame them for that. This situation that was bigger than them had turned their lives upside down as well, and they believed that by relying on the doctors once again they could help me through this discomfort of mine. 

We walked into the kitchen and I saw my brothers sitting at the table. They were watching me.

Then there was a knock at the front door and d  ad went to open it and I saw the usual car that had already taken us to Bari and Brindisi.

Then mom hugged me, gave me a kiss on the forehead and walked me towards the door. As soon as I stepped outside, to my great surprise I was struck by the fact that my neighbors were standing silently across the street, against the wall of the house opposite mine. As I watched them, I caught a morbid curiosity in their eyes. Then unexpectedly I noticed my father a little further away holding his face in his hands, clumsily trying to hide his tears while talking to one of the neighbors.

Our eyes met and he took his leave and we got in the car ready to drive to this new place.


I knew the trip would be quite long. I thought that maybe Assuntina would come to visit me and how nice it would be to see her again and spend some time with her. With these positive thoughts I fell asleep and slept soundly until I arrived, with Fortunata in my arms, my sweet doll.        

We passed through a large gate and went along a long stretch where there was a large park with many tall trees. I immediately thought that I could run around happily, take some nice walks, and watch the sun and  the little animals again. There were benches here and there, with a few people sitting down. I noticed that they were all dressed the same. White. "How strange!" I thought.


We stopped in front of what must have been the front door. Dad opened the car door, got out of the car, and walked towards a man coming towards him. I opened the car door, Fortunata fell to the ground, I was about to bend down to pick her up when a strong hand grabbed my arm and yanked me. 

I turned around and saw a large woman, with a big mouth, a furrowed brow. She was wearing a white gown, her shoes were also white. She complied my father with great seriousness and barely glanced at me, with a strained and icy smile. 

She was looking at me, gritting her teeth and held me down while another person, this time a man in a white coat, took my other arm and together they pulled me out of the car and literally pushed me into the door of the large building. Even today I find it difficult to understand why daddy didn't react to the obvious violence that was absolutely unnecessary. It seemed that I was the only one that could feel the violence those four damn hands were giving off.


I could not say goodbye to my father as I saw the door close behind me. They had not even tried to feign politeness or reverence towards me or my father. They were the power and they showed it without veil, justifying themselves with an authority they had appropriated.


I screamed,  wiggled, I could see my father through the large windows that overlooked the garden entrance of the building. I called out to him, he was there, motionless next to the gentleman and crying wiping his tears with a handkerchief. I wanted my doll, but I could see it further and further away, on the ground, now trampled by the wheels of the car that was parking.


Once inside the building, they continued to hold me down and make me walk by pushing me. I couldn't look around. I was too scared. I looked ahead and it was like an overwhelming wave pushing me aimlessly. Until that moment I had never been aware of death, but in those steps I felt it near. We entered a small room, all white with a small bed. The woman, still without a word, beckoned to the man to hold me close and with a quick gesture she lifted the sleeve of my blouse and tied a string around my arm.


I thought the time had come when everything would disappear and be over, I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks.


Was this the special school? And why was daddy sobbing? What was going on?


I didn't have time to ask myself any more questions because I felt a prick in my arm and a great chill penetrate my vein. Everything went black and smoky.


I fell asleep. I don't know how long.


"The secret of Alba"


English version  

"Il segreto di Alba"


Italian version