However, his multitasking and present-focused attitude should not be read as a superficial way of dealing with problems. Julio always prepared with great seriousness for his interviews and business trips. He conducted his in-depth research both online and in the library (his favorite was the Jefferson Market branch of the NY Public Library, the one that looks like the home of the Adams family, on 6th Avenue) and then refined it by the usual endless series of phone calls with his extended and informal editorial team. I remember a whole day spent preparing for the interview with African Bishop Milingo, after he had just married a Korean acupuncturist in a New York hotel according to the rites of the Moon sect. After having besieged for a whole day with phone calls and faxes the pseudominister who ran the press office of the sect, Julio got the interview (this time an exclusive!) with the controversial prelate. He asked me to have lunch with him at a restaurant in the East Village to finalize his preparation for the interview, after he had spent the morning doing research on Milingo and the Moon sect. The interview was to take place in Italian (which Julio spoke perfectly), but Julio did not feel exactly an expert on Vatican affairs. Neither am I, but since many of our discussions were often of religious and ecclesiastical nature, I think Julio wanted to use me as a little guinea pig. At the end of the meal, he was more than ready with an impeccable line of questions, a portable recorder, a dark suit and the pressure of the newspaper that, sniffing a big score, was calling him every half hour. As soon as he arrived, Julio asked Milingo, dressed as a layman, but with the eye-catching episcopal ring on his finger if he were to call him "Monsignor Bishop" or "Mr. Milingo." The question was perfectly legitimate but the bishop took it pretty bad and went on a rampage calling Julio an agent provocateur of the Vatican and refused to continue the interview. Julio came home ranging from furious (for having missed an exclusive and having to explain it to the newspaper) to amused (by having been mistaken for a Vatican agent. Him of all people…). At the end of the day, we joked that it was "the best interview never written."
Julio went to Iraq as an embedded journalist with the U.S. troops because he was convinced that in order for him to tell the story his place was to be there, as closely as possible to what was happening on a front geographically and culturally distant from our everyday life. At 32, a true conscientious war objector and unconditional opponent of the war, he found himself for a month alongside the men and women of the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division. In those weeks, he wrote unforgettable chronicles, sometimes elegiac, sometimes ironic, in which the human sympathy for the American soldiers who had become his companions did not prevent him to look with Virgilian pietas to those Iraqis that he could not bring himself to consider enemies.