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Twombly, who famously split his time between Italy and his native Lexington, Va., stayed in a local hotel and later in his own nearby home and studio during the several months each year he was in Gaeta, looking out at the Tyrrhenian Sea and painting some of the most important canvases of the 20th century, including the “Four Seasons” series.
Aided by the important art world figures invited to visit over the decades, he helped put the frayed fishing village on the cultural map.
Sometimes Twombly — a rangy 6 feet 4 inches tall — would sit on Nicola’s shoulders to paint the uppermost corners of the larger canvases.
“Cy had a kind of naïve laziness,” Del Roscio says.
Twombly, whom the artist Julian Schnabel, also a friend, called “a big child,” needed to be looked after.
He didn’t drive or cook, and business bored him — so Del Roscio took care of the day-to-day annoyances, hosting guests and planning exhibits, meeting with dealers and gallery owners and editing catalogs.
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His classic cutting approach and a life dedicated to grooming has earned him a loyal following.A few months later, a mutual friend introduced Del Roscio, who describes himself at the time as “undisciplined, anarchic,” to Twombly, who appreciated the young man’s ability to recognize painters’ styles after only a brief exposure to their work.“I had a good eye,” says Del Roscio, looking out the kitchen window in the house in Gaeta. He wouldn’t give you his friendship just like that.”Twombly gave him his first job in art, cutting a canvas, before asking him to frame a painting for a client.“Sometimes he couldn’t do very practical things or he didn’t want to.”Although Twombly had lived in Italy since the late 1950s (in addition to his apartment in Rome, he had a 17th-century villa in Bassano in Teverina, north of Rome), it was Del Roscio who brought him into the world of Gaeta, which influenced so much of his later work.The painter regaled visitors with tales of how Hadrian had owned a villa in the town, how Catullus had pals there and how Cicero was buried nearby.
From the window of his place on the Via di Monserrato, Del Roscio could see across the narrow street into a spectacular palazzo, arrayed with 18th-century furniture, antiquities and wall-spanning art, where the artist lived with his wife, Tatiana Franchetti, a portraitist and sister of Baron Giorgio Franchetti, a patron of Twombly’s.