MILAN, ITALY — An Italian man who packed his bags 44 years ago and told friends he was leaving for America was found dead inside one of the walls of his home.

An American woman who recently bought the house near Lucca in northern Tuscany discovered the body Tuesday as she was carrying out renovations, police said.

Walled with his remains were two suitcases, a trowel, a rifle and a suicide note.

Inside a thick wall in the cellar the woman found human remains, two packed suitcases, a trowel and other equipment to make a wall, a rusted rifle and a bottle with a suicide note.

The note, on paper headed with the name Nemo Cianelli, explained that the man had discovered he had an incurable disease and had decided to kill himself. He said he had invented the tale of going to America to avoid upsetting his family.

Local newspapers reported in 1958 that Cianelli was missing, and speculated that he might have gone to America, but after a period of rumor and mystery, the story was forgotten.

Police said it appeared Cianelli had packed his suitcases, written the suicide note, built a wall up around himself and then shot himself.

[Thanks to Harry Farkas for this contribution.]