There is a poetry so intimately linked to places, that places themselves become poetry. When we talk about villages - which are not the specific object of a literary genre, but a “landscape of the mind”, indeed - it is inevitable to look for the right words, not trivial ones, to describe them. The poets have not only sung of cities and metropolises. Some of them - not a few - have holed up in small or world- villages, where their voice found ways to become more lyrical. The Londoner John Berger, passed away only last year, lived between stables and barns in Quincy, an eighty-people village in the French Haute-Savoie. W.H. Auden is buried in the shadow of the white church of Kirchstetten, an Austrian village on the edge of the Wienerwald. Italo Calvino rests under a tree in the cemetery of Castiglione della Pescaia.
Fifteen years ago, in our introduction to the first edition of the guide “The most beautiful villages of Italy”, we remembered Goffredo Parise, who at one point in his life left Rome for a small house, “a small elderflower-scented Eden”, in the Veneto countryside. It was the ‘70s: today Ponte di Piave is surrounded by warehouses, blocks of flats and “geometrical small villas” of the Italian building disorder. But for the mere fact of guarding Parise’s house, it is a place of poetry. As it is, always in the Marca Trevigiana, Pieve di Soligo. This town has nourished the lyric of Andrea Zanzotto, who found in the hilly landscape of the Prosecco vineyards his “keyboard of woods, of vegetable essences”.
We then brought you, in this issue dedicated to the villages of poetry, to Tursi, a small center of the Matera district where, using the local dialect, Albino Pierro has made his lyric flourish, imbued with nature and primitivism, ancestral memories, Southern essence and magic. Heading back North, we visited in Agliè, in the Canavese region, the summer home of Guido Gozzano with the living room of Nonna Speranza (Grandma Hope), full - according to the bourgeois décor of the time - of many “good things of awful taste”. Lastly, the Emilian Correggio, present throughout the work of Pier Vittorio Tondelli, cult writer of the ‘80s generation.
Of course, the relationship between villages and poetry does not end here. To stay only within the “most beautiful villages in Italy”, we remember the presence of Giovanni Pascoli in Barga (Lucca), Tommaso Landolfi in Pico (Frosinone), Gabriele D’Annunzio in Gardone Riviera (Brescia), Giovanni Petrarca in Arquà Petrarca (Padua), Mary and Percy Shelley in Lerici (La Spezia), the Victorian poet Robert Browning in Asolo (Treviso). These “matches” are only the first that come to mind. Another conveyance of loving sentiments is found with Sicily. Readers have asked us to know which are the 19 Sicilian villages certified among “the most beautiful in Italy”; we put them in sequence imagining an itinerary from east to west, counter-clockwise starting from Messina.
In addition to the romantic German village of Meersburg and the recent transformations of the Amsterdam Noord district in the Dutch city, we point out two services, both dedicated to cultural minorities: those who, in our country, speak a language other than Italian, and the indigenous peoples in the world, annihilated by economic logics but closer than anyone to the spirit of the earth.
Have a good reading, and see you again in October.