Pordenone – Laura Cimetta – Found in Translation course
Pordenone by Laura Cimetta, Creative Writing Course ‘Found in Translation’ 2017.
Living in a small town in Italy where you breathe culture and Italianity/ Italianness Pordenone is a town you may have never heard of (or if you’re Italian you may remember it because of the scandal of the PornoProf/teacher); it’s in the North East of Italy and it became a province during the years of the industrial boom because of its Zanussi household appliances factory. It’s situated 40 minutes from the Adriatic sea and 40 minutes from the mountains, from whose peaks, on a clear day, you can admire the sea; could you ask for more?
Now I’d like to tell you the reasons why I consider it as an example of good “Italianity”.
1. It’s an old town whose name means Port on the River Naonis and dates back to the Roman times from which some old charming monuments still remain.
2. It’s a cultural town where every year 3 international events are held.
PordenoneLegge, the BookFestival which takes place the second week of September when writers from all over the word present their books in several venues from 9a.m to 11p.m.
Wherever you walk and go you can hear people speaking all languages, you can meet authors, poets, playwrights,
philosophers, comedians and attend their readings. Young people can apply to become their “Angels” to accompany them, look after them and any dayto-day needs they may have. You can recognize them because they all wear
yellow shirts with white wings on their backs.
The second event called “Dedica” takes place in the spring and is devoted to ONE writer, often a Nobel Prize winner: during that week the whole town can meet the Author (with a capital ‘A’ ) around the town, and attend his/her readings.
The students who have become familiar with their works at school, thanks to their teachers, can enter some contests – designing the cover for the latest novel, reviewing the book, for example – and can also meet the Artist face to face. It’s such an exciting experience and, to be honest, most of the writers (like Paul Auster or Nadine Gordimer to mention just two) fall in love with our pretty medieval town and yummy little restaurants. The third event is the International festival of the “Cinema Muto”, a celebration of the ‘Silent Screen’ that gathers lovers of this quaint medium from all over the world. Is that enough talking about culture for a town of 60,000 people?
3. Musically speaking it was the place where Italian Punk music was born with the Great Complotto and there are still plenty of musical events to choose from today.
4. Last but not least, it’s charming because of something the whole world usually envies us for – and tries to reproduce! – but we’re now unfortunately giving away: our little downtown CITY CENTRES, with their boutiques and little shops, local trattorie and ice cream parlours with the most unusual flavours to choose from.
Strolling around our main Streets and Market Squares, gazing at the unique shop windows, each one different from the other, stopping at little cafes, sitting outside – if it’s cold under a patio heater – to sip a delicious espresso, or drinking a Spritz or a “taglio” of white wine, all the time observing the people passing by on their bikes or their Vespas; that’s a way of life you cannot find anywhere else.
The crazy phenomenon occurring now is that, while our original little shops close down in favour of Globalised chain
stores like Zara, McDonalds or Starbucks Coffee, that look exactly the same wherever you go, the rest of the world like the USA is now building brand new shopping malls that are copies of our original old city centers.
Does it make any sense to you?
Well, I do not believe in stereotypes, but I consider some Italian features, like the ones I’ve mentioned and I adore about the town I live in, are all treasures we should preserve. We should celebrate them as an example of a “human way of life”.
Aren’t those features the ones Irish people love the most when they think of Italy?