Springtime is a perfect period to visit Venice, one of the most breathtaking cities in the world: it’s not too hot to stroll along the labyrinth of “calli”, it is easy to experience the phenomenon of high water and to relax in the sunshine in the countless “campi” or “fondamenta”. But there is one more reason to be in Venice in this particular time of the year. In spring, the city hosts a beautiful and exciting event, Incroci di Civiltà – Crossings of Cultures –, a literary festival which, for three days and for free, hosts great authors from all around the world.
Born almost ten years ago from an idea of Shaul Bassi, professor of English and Postcolonial Literature at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, the festival is an extraordinary opportunity to get in touch with the dimension of contemporary literature and culture. As a matter of fact, along the years the festival hosted a huge number of great names of the literary world: Sir V. S. Naipaul and Orhan Pamuk, Nobel laureates in Literature, Jeanette Winterson, A. S. Byatt, Salman Rushdie, Yves Bonnefoy, Vikram Seth, Michael Ondaatje and David Grossman are only some of the authors who got on the stage of Incroci di Civiltà. Furthermore, many projects are developed together with the festival, for instance every year one author is invited to stay in Venice in order to write about the city and a video contest is organised in which the contestants have to make a video and creatively talk about their favourite book, the best video is awarded with a voucher expendable in bookstores.
Incroci di Civiltà is an inspiring event which has become an important appointment for literature and book lovers and for the entire Venetian community and Professor Bassi is very happy and proud of the great results achieved by his project:
Professor Bassi, what did inspire you to create an event as Incroci di Civiltà? How did you come up with this idea?
I was inspired by a Postcolonial studies convention, “Try Freedom”, which took place in 2008 and hosted a number of different authors. From the intuition to extend such experience to a wider audience than the academic one the zero edition was born and then the success of this initiative encouraged us to carry on with the project and next year it will be the tenth anniversary of the festival. Naturally, the great tradition of literary studies at Ca’ Foscari and the close relationship between the many professors and the international authors constitute still today the very basis and condition to organise such event.
Is it hard to raise the necessary funds?
Of course it is. The Municipality zeroed its contribution because of the crisis which followed the Mose scandal, so if it wasn’t for the generosity of some private sponsors, it would be almost impossible to continue the experience of the festival.
How does the Venetian community respond to Incroci di Civiltà?
The response from the community is wonderful, warm and constantly increasing. The audience is rewarding and the authors are happy and satisfied.
As the creator of the festival, is there an author in particular whom you would like to invite and interview?
I’d love to invite Philip Roth, but he’s a writer who travels very seldom.
In the hope to see Philip Roth on the stage of Incroci di Civiltà, I invite you all to the next edition of the festival. See you in Venice next spring.