Sunday, 8 June 2014


Day  5 is recounted by William (Bill) Wall

Sunday June 8th - Lugo di Romagna
Travelling between Bologna and Lugo in 35C, in an un-air-conditioned local train, we began to think longingly for the first time of the cool of an Irish day, and this song came to mind. It's very famous in Italy and indicates the love affair between the Italian people and the Irish landscape, which they see as a kind of antithesis of theirs:

Daniele Serafini
We were met at the Lugo railway station by the poet and translator Daniele Serafini, who had organised our reading there. Lugo, is a small town by Italian standards, but still manages to have a medieval citadel and renaissance-period porticoes, an ancient open-air market, and a hotel with exhibitions of political cartoons and a literary programme that many an Irish arts centre would envy. We had dinner that evening, at the invitation of the City Council, under the porticoes in glorious shade, eating typical local food and drinking Sangiovese, and afterwards read at Caffe Letterario.
William Wall reading in Lugo at the Caffe Letterario
It was the evening of a closely-contested local election, taken much more seriously in Italy than Ireland perhaps because local councils have real power, and they were worried that there would be a small turnout, but they needn't have been. Afterwards, in a bar in the mediaeval castle, the Italians anxiously awaited the results of the final count. Just before midnight word came that the candidate of choice of the literary and artistic side of the city had won and after that we simply had to go celebrating the victory.
A local woman in traditional dress
The piazza was busy and noisy, crowds milled around the PD/SEL headquarters, sparkling wine in every glass, cheering and clapping. At one point the owner of the caffe next door handed out glasses saying, 'I've found the glasses but I can't find the wine'. The new mayor, a young man of 29, was introduced to the 'Irish delegation'. He looked dazed. I doubt he'll remember a few random Irish writers, but it was good to be there to see it. The atmosphere was electric in the piazza. I don't know where the losing candidate's supporters were, but it seemed like a sea of happy faces.

It was our second-last reading. Onwards tomorrow to Bologna and the oldest university in the world, the Alma Mater of all Alma Maters.

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