Italy’s foreign policy of “peaceful penetration” was always looking for opportunities. The Italian Ambassador Montagna had set up an intelligence gathering network throughout Greece relying on the Italian missions already in Greece of fisheries, gendarmerie, and archaeologists. For example, in 1921 Biagio Pace traveled in eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus as an archaeologist but published his report on the commercial opportunities there for Italy in 1923. Carlo Anti had been sent out to look for economic and propaganda opportunities while exploring south-western Anatolia for potential sites to excavate.
Dr. Vincenzo Fago was not only an internationally esteemed librarian, but was serving as the Italian political agent at Ankara while based in Mersin in Cilicia. According to British Intelligence, Lt Col Vincenzo Fago had arranged for Italian ships to smuggle arms, ammunition, oil and military vehicles past the Greek naval blockade to the Turks.
On February 23 at an Italian School dinner with della Seta for Amadeo Maiuri, the Director of the Italian Archaeological Mission in the Dodekanese. Fago appeared. Since Della Seta was planning to excavate in south-west Anatolia in 1922 and the Dodekanese were adjacent to that part to Anatolia, it is not surprising that Fago had much to discuss with each man.
What is surprising, however, is that Fago also met Gilbert Bagnani, then only a twenty-one year old student. Fago wanted the archaeologists to explore Cilicia in south-east Anatolia, where the French had just recently been soundly defeated, and claimed that he could arrange it. Gilbert, however, doubted his claim. Gilbert’s intuition was correct because Montagna later told British Ambassador Lindley that, according to Fago, the Kemalist forces were lacking almost everything, grossly underestimating Kemal’s forces; in hindsight Fago’s information was wrong, perhaps partly because he was very deaf, according to Gilbert. Indeed, Gilbert more accurately assessed the reality of the situation than the Italian agent did. Fago, on the other hand, would have been impressed by Gilbert’s thorough competence, intellectual brilliance and intuitive political acuity, not to mention his multi-lingual fluency and ready access to the highest levels of Athenian society.
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