This is the story of Bernardino de Sanctis, my father.

Bernadino de Sanctis was born in 1938 in Rome. He was the only son of Antonio de Sanctis and Matilda Tosi.

Antonio, a farmer and landowner, wished the best future for his son so he sent Dino to a Catholic school. There, Antonio was convinced, the education would be the perfect antidote for the rebellious nature he had begun to see in Dino. 

But neither the strictest impositions nor the harshest punishments of the priests could convince Dino to choose the path of studying. Dino ran away from school and against everyone's wishes but his own decided to pursue the only thing that really made his heart beat:

Automobile mechanics.

He began by working for Seat, where he acquired the necessary, basic experience. In 1966, he struck out on his own. When he had achieved economic independence, sufficient to support a family, he married Assunta de Sanctis, the woman who bore him three children.

The first two children turned out to be girls. With the third, and final pregnancy, Dino deeply hoped the infant would be a male so that Dino would be able to share and pass on his passion. But fate decided otherwise. Another female was born.


All my life I have been surrounded by cars, old iron, steering wheels, wrenches and so on. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I could never understand why my father spent so many hours far away from his family and why he would bring so much old iron into our house and garden. I still remember the smell of the grease on his skin when he returned at night for dinner after a long day spent in his workshop.

His hands, so big and dirty, scared me.

I will never forget one of the first pictures I took of my father. He was sitting on the edge of the bed in his room, folding his shirt. At that moment, we both understood that it was about more than just pictures. These photos tell my father’s story and get at something about his soul. At the same time, they also convey the unconditional love that has always bound us. That moment, the magical silence that hung between us, made us feel connected.

—Serena De Sanctis