One morning last June, Gloria Trevisan posted a stunning photo of the London skyline on her Instagram feed. It showed a wonderful rainbow, arching across the typical gun-metal grey, rain-threatened English summer sky. ‘Spettacolo,’ she wrote. It needed no translation.
The photo, taken from her spotless new flat on the 23rd floor of a tower block, was proudly displayed next to a succession of others: of swans in Hyde Park, Tower Bridge, and her enjoying a pint with her boyfriend, Marco Gottardi, in a pub garden.
Gloria, 26, and Marco, 27, a beautiful young Italian couple who arrived just three months earlier to further their careers as architects, learn English and ‘live the dream’, had fallen head over heels in love with London. But London let them down in the most terrible way imaginable.
Gloria Trevisan, 26, and Marco Gottardi, 27, moved to London last April to further their careers as architects, learn English and ‘live the dream’ before they were killed in the Grenfell blaze
Ms Trevisan, who completed her master's degree in architecture at the University of Venice in October 2016, had travelled to London with Mr Gottardi to find work
The pair were among 71 people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington, West London, during in the early hours of June 14 last year. They were poisoned by carbon monoxide as the block turned into an inferno, sparked by a fridge fire on the fourth floor, but almost certainly fanned upwards by the block’s newly installed exterior cladding.
Looking at those Instagram images today, Gloria and Marco’s parents can draw a little — just a little — comfort, knowing how happy they were in their final weeks.
‘It was the first time they had lived together,’ Marco’s mother Daniela says. ‘For them, it was the start of a wonderful life together.’
Ms Trevisan made a heartbreaking phone call to her mother as the fire spread through the block
Daniela, 58, and her husband Giannino, 62, came over to visit last April and say the couple’s excitement was palpable.
‘They were living in a beautiful skyscraper with amazing views. I saw how happy they were,’ says Daniela. ‘Marco cooked, Gloria kept the place tidy. They’d made lots of friends.’ But of course, tingeing those happy memories is fury and almost unbearable grief that these two promising young lives were snuffed out so cruelly.
An inquiry report into the tragedy is imminent, but already the combustible exterior cladding, installed during a £10 million refurbishment the previous year, has been widely criticised. The Grenfell management has also been accused of ignoring warnings about blocked fire escapes, faulty extinguishers, electricity power surges and a lack of sprinklers.
Equally to blame, say Daniela and Giannino, was the ‘stay put’ advice given to residents of high-rise flats in cases of fire — a line slavishly adhered to by the fire brigade emergency controllers on the night of the blaze.
Although the London Fire Brigade has never provided a full explanation of its advice with regard to Grenfell, telling tower block residents to stay put is standard practice because the perceived wisdom is that fires in individual flats can be contained.
Official guidance is that it is safer to remain in a flat than to venture into a potentially lethal smoky stairwell. What’s gut-wrenching for Marco’s parents is that they’ve learned how a mother and a son, who also lived on the 23rd floor, survived because they ignored this advice.
The world watched horror as the block went up in flames on June 14, 2017, as footage showed the fire engulfing homes and raging for more than 24 hours
Speaking exclusively to the Mail, Marco’s parents described the heartbreaking series of phone calls with their son and his girlfriend in the early hours of that fateful morning, as they waited for help.
At first, the young couple reassured the pair that they would be fine, but they started to sound increasingly worried. Then came their last, horrifying calls where they said how much they loved their parents and shared their final tragic goodbyes.
Their bodies were found in an embrace, shielded from the flames by falling rubble.
‘Marco was always someone who followed the rules,’ says Daniela. ‘He felt a great deal of responsibility for Gloria and at that moment he did what seemed to be the best thing. All his friends said it was impossible that he would go against the advice of the fire brigade.’
Describing the moment she was told about his death, Daniela says: ‘It’s as if they flayed me alive. The pain was so bad. You can’t imagine it. In life you expect accidents or illness, but not this.
Ms Trevisan told her mother: 'Thank you mother for what you have done for me'
‘I wake up remembering everything. I dream of Marco. Last time I dreamed of him, he said, “I’m coming home.” For a while I didn’t want to live. Even now, I hope to join him.’
Marco’s father has similar feelings. ‘When I go to sleep or wake up, it’s terrible. I feel lonely, vulnerable . . .’ he says, before trailing off.
Daniela, a civil servant in education, and Giannino, a retired regional director of a business information company, raised Marco, their only child, in a detached villa in San Stino di Livenza, a small town 36 miles north-east of Venice.
He excelled at school and won a place at the University of Venice to study architecture. It was here he met Gloria, a stunningly beautiful young woman from the Veneto region of northern Italy. Gloria, the only daughter of Emanuela and Loris, was on the same course as him. Soon the pair became inseparable.
Like many young middle-class Italian students, the couple were unable to live independently because of a lack of money, so were forced to stay at home with their parents.
After graduating with a Master’s degree, Marco worked at an engineering studio for less than £400 a month before he and Gloria decided to seek their fortune in London.
They arrived in March, secured a privately rented flat on the top floor in Grenfell, and enrolled on an intensive language course for two months to perfect their English.
Gloria quickly found work with Peregrine Bryant Architecture Building and Conservation, in South-West London, while Marco worked as an architect at Creative Ideas & Architecture Office (CIAO for short), based in East London.
‘After all those years of studying hard and earning hardly any money, he had finally arrived in life. At that point I was so happy for him,’ says Daniela. ‘Marco and Gloria hadn’t spoken directly of marriage, but when I told her that I wished I had more children when I was younger, she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll have grandchildren for you.” I was waiting for all this to happen . . .’
A month later, at the end of April, Daniela and Giannino decided to visit the lovebirds. ‘We