Lawyer and partisan

Avvocato Silvio DianOne of the most famous and esteemed lawyers of the Sanremo Court in the last century was certainly the lawyer Silvio Dian, who would leave a lasting mark not only in the world of law, but also in the world of politics and culture in the far western part of Liguria.

Silvio Paolo Mario Dian was born in Arma di Taggia on 28 June 1923 to Enrico, originally from Rezzo, and Margherita Prevosto.

After obtaining his secondary school leaving certificate, in October 1936 Dian started attending the fourth grade at the Liceo Classico "Gian Domenico Cassini" in Sanremo. The scholastic experience within the walls of the "Cassini", shared with his classmates Italo Cavino and Eugenio Scalfari, which ended in the summer of 1941 with his high school graduation, would represent a fundamental turning point in Dian's life.

Dian's friendship with Italo Calvino was particularly strong, and he was repaid in the post-war period by playing the role of the lawyer Canal, defender of the Anfossi family, in his novel "La speculazione edilizia" (The Building Speculation), published by Einaudi in 1963 and inspired by the events of Sanremo's impetuous and disorderly building boom.

In a testimony dating back to November 1986, the lawyer Dian recalled Italo Calvino in the days when they attended the 'Cassini' high school together:
« During his high school studies, Italo excelled in the Italian language, even if, like all of us, he had to adapt his style, which the high school teacher wanted pompous and round, to the one favoured by Professor Piggioli, a small and bony priest who hated rhetoric and catchphrases that he erased with red marks. However, these soon disappeared in the pages of Italo, who managed to harmoniously blend his vast humanistic culture with the rigour of logical discourse that the 'Pig' (as the professor was called) had accustomed us to love. He was not particularly good at Greek or science, although his commitment was such that he got a good final grade. He also loved to sketch figures with ironic comments on the characters in the school, demonstrating an uncommon aptitude for drawing that was quick and precise even on the tables in the bar ».

Together with his schoolmates, Dian also used to meet at Calvino's country house in the hinterland of Sanremo to discuss politics and exchange his opinions on Fascism with his friends.
In the summer of 1943, together with Italo Calvino, Eugenio Scalfari and three other comrades, he formed a group that called itself the "Movimento universitario liberale" (liberal university movement), which was swept away by the turbulent events that followed 8 September, when Scalfari was forced to take refuge in the south and Dian, together with Calvino, decided not to present themselves at the call to arms issued by the authorities of the Italian Social Republic.

Dian, who was in fact a draft dodger, went into hiding and joined the partisan formations operating in the area of Rezzo, his family's home town. He then took an active part in the Resistance until the days of the Liberation, when he marched with other partisans in Sanremo.

After graduating in law from the University of Genoa and successfully passing the exam to become a lawyer, he decided to continue the legal tradition of his uncle of the same name, Silvio Dian, taking over the law firm in Via Matteotti in Sanremo in the early 1950s.

On 6 December 1951, Dian married Anna Maria Marvaldi in Sanremo.

As a lawyer, Dian had the characteristic of achieving great results in all fields of law, including criminal law.
One of the first sensational cases he dealt with was the unexpected exclusion of a song from the 1958 Sanremo Festival. On February 4, 1958, in fact, the lawyer Dian, on behalf of Mario Ruccione, Marino De Paolis and Raffaele Cutolo, authors of the song "Canzone che piace a te", interpreted by Claudio Villa and Aurelio Fierro, excluded from the list of ten finalists at the 1958 Sanremo Festival, obtained from the Court of Sanremo the seizure of the ballots and voting records relating to the three evenings of the event. Despite the brilliant defence of the lawyer Dian, the extremely controversial case had an unfavourable outcome.

In 1960, he entered the political arena as a candidate in the municipal elections in the city of flowers. He was then elected councillor on the lists of the Italian Socialist Party.
During the Municipal Council meeting of 21 July 1962, when the assembly unanimously voted to trust Luigi Bertolini with the management of the Casino, Dian, together with Roberto Moroni and Bruno Tamponi from the MSI party and Franco Dulbecco, expressed his opposition to the measure adopted, asking in vain that representatives of the council's minorities be appointed among the members of the commission responsible for dealing with the concessionaire company.

On 13 February 1965, the Municipal Council reconfirmed Professor Eraldo Cugge as Mayor of Sanremo and appointed him to the new municipal council. On 25 February, he was appointed deputy mayor and was given responsibility for town planning and hygiene, again as a member of the Socialist Party. After his five-year stint as deputy mayor, he left politics for good with the aim of devoting himself exclusively to the legal profession.

In the early 1970s, he returned to his job as a lawyer at full speed. Among others, he took on the defence of the Badalucco primary school teacher Ermanno Vittorio Boeri, accused of inciting the crowd against the construction of the Glori dam during a rally held in the Badalucco kindergarten on the evening of 28 July 1960. Thanks to the skilful defence of lawyer Dian, who represented the interests of the small village in the Argentina valley, Boeri was acquitted by the Court of Sanremo on 11 November 1963 for lack of evidence.

Another famous trial in which lawyer Dian was one of the main protagonists was that of the Sanremo labourer Antonio Toesca, accused of having murdered Aida Gontar, widow of the Venetian count Alvise Bragadin, on the night of 23 November 1961, in his flat in Via Arnaldo da Brescia. At the trial, which opened at the Matuzian court in April 1963, lawyer Dian, together with his colleague Nino Bobba, strongly argued the innocence of Toesca, who had already spent a long time in prison. After sixteen months of hearings, the bricklayer from Sanremo was acquitted for lack of evidence.

In the eighties, he also acted as a defence counsel for several croupiers involved in the roulette theft scandal and, ten years later, he would be part of the defence team in the trial for bribes at the Song Festival. His client, a music impresario from Arcidosso in the province of Grosseto, was acquitted.

In 1985, the Municipality of Sanremo entrusted him with the task of protecting the municipal administration in the case brought by the latter against the company Cogefar of Sesto San Giovanni for the failure to build the landfill in the sea at Bussana.
In 1993 he defended the carpenter Aladino Di Zio, accused of having killed the pensioner Antonietta Evangelista on the night of 27 January 1991 in via Borea, Sanremo.
Acquitted at first instance thanks also to the passionate defence of his lawyer Dian, Di Zio was then sentenced on appeal to twenty-one years in prison, but he was no longer defended by the Matuzian lawyer.

Already in 1968, thanks to his recognised professional skills and the esteem in which he was held by his colleagues, he had taken over the presidency of the "Sanremo Avocats Association", remaining in office for twenty-three years until 1991, when he was succeeded by the lawyer Elio Spitali. Between 1992 and 1994 he was president of the Sanremo Criminal Chamber.

During his long career, lawyer Dian was also a regular and authoritative lecturer as an expert on legal problems, especially in the field of criminal and procedural law. In 1987, for example, he spoke at a nationwide conference entitled "Anatomy of the maxi-trial", held in Sanremo on 14 March and organised by the Flower City Avocats Association.

On 15 June 1991 he was to speak at another important conference, "Il sistema penale tra riforma e controriforma" (The criminal system between reform and counter-reform), organised, again in San Remo, by the local Avocats Association, at which speakers included the magistrate Giovanni Falcone, the former President of the Constitutional Court Giovanni Conso, the lawyer Giuseppe Frigo and the jurist Vittorio Grevi.

Dian was also a great lover of poetry and loved to take long walks on the Colle della Melosa to contemplate nature.

In 1995 he suffered a stroke, which would leave him bedridden for several years.
Following the worsening of his health conditions, on the evening of 13 January 2000, the lawyer Dian died in his home in Via Matteotti in Sanremo, at the age of 76, a few months after the death of two other protagonists of Sanremo's forensic history, the lawyer Natale De Francisi and the lawyer Franco Moreno.
His funeral took place on 17 January, in a strictly private form, at the express wish of his family.

(source: taken from a text by Andrea Gandolfo)

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