Italian Tour: Livorno, Florence – ‘Come cade la luce’ launch
And then, I returned to Livorno. I had been there once before, after the Pisa Book Festival in 2016, and fell in love with it. I have good friends there, and that always makes a difference.
At the invitation of Massimiliano Roveri (aka Max O’Rover), I took part in a lovely evening at the Ex-Cinema Aurora.
This is a quirky, original, friendly venue, one in which the owners Giacomo and Annalisa, make everyone feel instantly welcome.
The old cinema seats are still in evidence; bits and pieces of Irish road-signs adorn the walls; there is excellent Guinness on tap.
They, and their terrific staff, hosted a ‘Cena con la scrittrice’ (‘Dinner with the Writer’) on the 8th February. It happened to be my birthday: and they made it very special. They even baked a cake!
The Ex-Cinema Aurora will also be the venue for a new and exciting initiative.
This year, 2018, will see the beginnings of the brand-new San Patrizio Livorno Festival #SPLF – a gathering that will celebrate the cultural and literary links between Ireland and Italy.
The man himself is reputed to have landed somewhere along the coast, close to the harbour of Livorno. Now that would make a great story…
Next year, in March 2019, the Festival begins in earnest. Watch this space for further updates – some prominent Irish writers have already signed up for 2019 and it promises to be an entertaining and inclusive venture.
The end of my tour took me to Florence: first to the Enoteca Alessi, where we had a lovely afternoon with Antonella Tarchi, complete with some Bushmills cocktails and finger food. Alessi is an Aladdin’s cave for good food and wine: always a pleasure to return to its warm welcome.
It’s always a pleasure, too, to meet readers who are keen to discuss the reading experience and to talk about what books mean to them.
More and more, I become convinced of the power that literature has to change lives.
And on the topic of changing lives, my final event was in the Librerie Universitarie in Florence, where Giampaolo Pampaloni Welcomed us.
The event had been organised by some tireless women from ConsapevolMente: Valentina Solari, Felicia Sorbo, Anna Crisci, along with Letizia D’Angelo and Cristina Tinacci.
Their organisation is devoted to highlighting the pandemic of violence against women that we see today, and to challenging current social attitudes.
These are always difficult topics. We discussed the view that violence against women is a continuum: from the casual sexist remark, to the unwanted touch, to sexual assault or rape. To femicide.
We spoke about the emergence of the #MeToo movement, and about how an essential dialogue has now begun. Silence, denial, looking the other way, are all part of a toxic collusion, as we have seen in the revelations from Hollywood in recent months.
I congratulate ConsapevolMente and I value the work that they do. The first response to a culture that devalues women and that is so pervasive as to be almost invisible at times, is to break the silence.
It was a privilege to be part of their event.
It felt strange, after everything I’d experienced, to return to a Dublin February and to a quieter existence. Back at my desk, I’m writing and researching and have adapted to my normal routine.
Let the next creative endeavour begin.