Katya Marletta, interviewed the Italian Cultural Institute In London director Katia Pizzi, talking about the upcoming 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death.
The 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death, the “father” of the Italian language, often referred to as “il Sommo Poeta” (the Supreme Poet), meritoriously defined the most important ambassador of Italian culture in the world, will be celebrated this year with a special programme of commemorative events in Italy and around the world. ICI (the Italian Cultural Institute In London) is preparing to inaugurate some unmissable events.
- Could you please tell us more about the ICI scheduled activities for this remarkable anniversary? The Istituto is preparing to celebrate Dante with a multi-disciplinary programme of events, including talks and seminars (e.g. Dante: A Man for All Seasons: iiclondra.esteri.it, audiobook translated in 33 languages (Dalla selva oscura al Paradiso: iiclondra.esteri.it , music and readings (on Dantedi`, 25 March 2021, in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in London), film and prints (Franco Zeffirelli’s Inferno and prints, in collaboration with the Zeffirelli Foundation), and many more.
- Why it is relevant to celebrate Dante Alighieri? And why is he “a Man for All Seasons”?
The thinking, language and politics of Dante Alighieri are one of the cornerstones of Western civilisation. The cultural influence of Dante’s works is global and extends well beyond the confines of Italy.
- Is Dante Alighieri trending in England? what is the relation between him and the British culture? The influence of Dante on British culture and literature is substantial, if not always manifest. From Geffrey Chaucer to John Milton, from William Blake to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Victorians, all the way up to James Joyce and T.S. Eliot and beyond, Dante has been consistently admired and emulated in the English-speaking world.
- Is culture still at the heart of the relationship between the present and the future?
My answer is a resounding yes. Culture is not only a vehicle whereby the past continues to engage us in the present but also prepares us to face our future. Culture is what makes us human. Culture is, and should be, a human right.
- The COVID 19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns had a significant impact on events across the globe, how has ICI been supportive during these unpredictable days?
The Institute has continued to work tirelessly to serve the community and delivering integrated cultural content. While we haven’t been able to welcome the public on our premises in Belgrave Square, we have focused on delivery of Italian language courses and cultural content on paper and online, including social media, and support of external organisations such as film and literature festivals, university departments, art galleries, theatres and music venues. Please do take a look at our website: iiclondra.esteri.it/iic_londra/it and subscribe to our Newsletter!
- What are the most relevant ICI 2021 events? Additionally to the significant Dante events listed above, the Istituto, amongst others, aims to collaborate with Cinecitta`/LUCE to bring the successful Cinema Made in Italy Festival to London, to partner with the Hayward Gallery at Southbank to bring an exhibition of Luigi Ghirri’s photographs to London, to host a series of events on Italian cities and issue a further book of translations of Italian authors in English. Design, music (pop, classical and contemporary), science, theatre, social sciences and many other cultural fields will also be covered.
By Katya Marletta