As it is extensively reported everywhere Italy is a country that can survive only with its cultural heritage. And this cultural heritage includes, of course, literature. A part from the many publishing houses settled in Italy, we count an extensive presence of literary festivals, small and important ones.
In the northeast corner of Italy, there is a small region which hosts every year two of these literary festivals: Pordenonelegge in Pordenone, and Vicino/Lontano in Udine.
This festival, in the industrial city of Pordenone, started in 2000 thanks to Augusto Antonucci, who wanted to renew the cultural activities of the city establishing also a foundation. In 15 years, the festival hosted writers such as Emmanuel Carrère, Jonathan Coe, Margaret Atwood, Umberto Eco and many others. Every September, for five days, authors and their readers invade the city. Along the squares of the city stages and stands for debates are built up, in the theatres and palaces of the city centre are organized others cultural events, such as projections of movies, performances and meetings for schools. Moreover, they hold a contest called “Caro autore, ti scrivo…” (Dear author, I write to you…), addressed to young readers who want to talk with their favourite author. There is also the possibility to attend a creative writing workshop (in the last edition, it was on literary genres), held by writers and experts. And every year Pordenonelegge has increased the number of participants and the number of followers on the web. So let’s wait for the 17th edition!
Vicino/Lontano instead is a literary festival held in Udine and organized by the association which carries the same name since 2004. They started the festival in order to remember the great author Tiziano Terzani, since he created a connection between different cultures during his countless travels and the association gives every year a prize to pay homage to the Tuscan writer. As Ryszard Kapuściński remembered:
Il nostro mondo, che dicono globalizzato, è invece fatto di molte province, di tante culture diverse. Tiziano Terzani con il suo lavoro di giornalista ha saputo davvero creare quel ponte tra le diversità e le differenze che poi dà modo anche agli altri di capire il mondo, un mondo che cambia velocemente e drammaticamente. Tiziano Terzani lo ha potuto fare perché sapeva guardare, i suoi occhi sapevano guardare nel modo giusto. E per questo Tiziano Terzani è stato un vero, importante testimone del nostro tempo. In tanti scrivono. Oggi siamo sommersi da un diluvio di parole, ma poco di quello che viene scritto rimarrà.
The festival is held in May, and similarly to Pordenonelegge, it takes place in the city centre of Udine. During the years, it hosted authors such as Umberto Galimberti, Vinicio Capossela, Erri De Luca, and ‘Ala Al-Aswani. Guests debate with each other or with the interviewer on the theme chosen every edition. The last year it was Dialoghi sul Mondo che Cambia (on the changing world).
Vicino/Lontano Festival is less known than Pordenonelegge but they are both little gems on the cultural Italian landscape.