On Wednesday, May 22, 1985, Maurizio opened the wardrobe in their Milan penthouse and packed a small suitcase. He told Patrizia he was going to Florence for a few days, said goodbye to her, and kissed the girls, Alessandra, nine, and little Allegra, four. They spoke the next day by phone; nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary.

The next afternoon, a doctor who was a close friend and confidant of Maurizio stopped by to tell Patrizia that Maurizio wasn't coming back for the weekend-if ever. Patrizia was stunned. The doctor offered some consoling words and the bottle of Valium he had tucked in his little black bag. She promptly sent the doctor and his bag packing. Patrizia knew that she and Maurizio had grown apart, but she never imagined that he would leave her and his children. A few days later, Patrizia's good friend Susy invited her over to lunch to deliver another message from Mauriztio.

"Patrizia, Maurizio isn't coming back home," Susy said. "He wants you to prepare a couple of bags with his clothing and he will send a driver to pick His decision is final."

“Tell me where I can find him," snapped Patrizia, "the least he can do is tell me to my face." 115

In July, Maurizio called and arranged to see the children on weekends. In September, he came home and asked Patrizia to accompany him to a polo match Gucci had sponsored and to present the winner's cup. During the week he was home, they finally had a chance to talk about their relationship. He invited her for dinner at Santa Lucia, the cozy trattoria where he had courted her. "I need my freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" he explained. "Don't you understand? First I had my father, who told me what to do, now I have you. I have never been free in all my life! I didn't enjoy my youth and now I want to do what I want to do." Patrizia sat speechless as her pizza grew cold. Maurizio explained that he wasn't leaving her for another woman, but because he felt "castrated" by her relentless criticism and bossiness.

"What is this freedom you want?" she finally replied. "To go rafting in the Grand Canyon, to buy a red Ferrari? You can do those things if you want to anyway! Your family is your freedom!"

Patrizia couldn't understand why Maurizio wanted freedom to come home at three o'clock in the morning when he was the kind of man who usu ally fell asleep at 11 P.M. in front of the television. She suspected he had been seduced by his own growing importance in the luxury goods business and by the respect given him by his new lieutenants in the office.

"My intelligence disturbed him," she said later, "he wanted to be number one and thought he had found the people who were going to make him num ber one!"

"Do what you must do," Patrizia finally told him coldly. "But don't forget you have obligations to me and to the children." Cold and impassive on the outside, inside, Patrizia felt her world falling apart.