Celebrating Books & Music at ‘Libro Aperto’

Florence is hosting the second edition of the literary fair. Photo by Leigh Van Ryn.

“Books,” Stephen King likes to say, “are a uniquely portable magic.”  Luckily, for the booklovers of Florence, the Firenze Libro Aperto literary festival will temporarily settle in the city in late September, bringing its own brand of bookish sorcery with it. This is the Festival’s second year of celebrating Italian literature.

From September 28 to September 30, the Florence book fair Libro Aperto will play host to over 500 publishing houses. Situated in the Fortezza da Basso, the festival will allocate 32,000 square meters of space to displays from cultural associations, and members of the publishing industry, with particular emphasis on the fantasy, sports, cinema criticism, travel, cooking, and translation genres. Through partnership with local street-food vendors and television-famous Italian chefs, the venue will offer food choices from quick snacks to sophisticated cuisine.

Last year’s Firenze Libro Aperto recruited visiting authors such as Matteo Bussola, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Mauro Corona, Marco Vichi, and Joe R. Landsdale. This year, both the festival’s authors and titles will revolve around the theme of “Bridges of Knowledge,” a motif chosen in order to emphasize how literature can dissolve boundaries and promote cross-cultural understanding.

With “Bridges” in mind, the fair will play host to notable names as Stefano Benni, Leo Ortolani, Francesco Recami, Anna Premoli, Alicia Gimenez Bartlett, Lorenza Indovina, Emiliano Gucci, Diego De Silva and Florentine crime writer Marco Vichi, all of whom will lend their expertise to lectures and question-and-answer panels on the Italian language and, in particular, on the potency of the written word. The Italian Dante Society and the Accademia della Crusca, under the direction of Claudio Marazzini, Vera Gheno, Andrea Felici, and Bruno Mastroianni, will moderate the majority of these talks. Nanni Moretti, the director, actor, and 2001 Palme d’Or winner at Cannes, will treat readers to a two-hour presentation on Saturday, September 29, as will Lorenza Indovina – the Italian actress and daughter of director Franco Indovina – on Sunday, September 30.

Moretti and Indovina will act as an appetizer to a main course of cinema-centric discussion, with additional guests Antonio Manzini, Diego De Silva, and Antonio Frazzi putting in appearances. Dissecting the dynamic between script and screen, Firenze Libro Aperto’s cinema-centric conversations will cover the difficulty inherent in adaptation, the medium’s amalgamation of imagination and practicality, and the relative roles of both film and literature in an ever-changing artistic landscape.

Amateur authors and poets can discuss their manuscripts with attending editors at the “Borse degli Inediti” workshop on the afternoon of September 28, from 2 to 5:30 pm. With registrations online, required participation materials include a manuscript, a brief biography, and a short synopsis of the work.

Along with workshops, author panels, and exhibitions, three spaces, dedicated to children’s literature, offer more than 100 activities highlighting kid’s classics in conjunction with Tuscan libraries.  Under the direction of La Nottola di Minerva cultural association, the program for kids will pivot between writing workshops, readings, and presentations by publishers, all between the hours of 10 am and 8 pm.

In addition to the literary fair, the festival’s schedule includes a concert by jazz great Stefano Bollani on Sept. 26 (7 pm), prior to the Festival’s official commencement. Friday, Sept. 28 will be the turn of Francesco Tricarico (8 pm) and singer-songwriter and author Roberto Vecchioni who comes to Florence with a stopover of his “La vita che si ama tour” christened for his latest book of the same name (9 pm), followed by Francesco Motta, and a DJ set.  The Modena City Ramblers will take the stage on Saturday, September 29 (9 pm) and Ginevra di Marco will interpret the songs of Luigi Tecno on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 8 pm. As Maurice Sendak says, “There’s so much more to a book than just the reading,” and the same sentiment applies to Firenze Libro Aperto’s schedule of activities.

In all its areas, the book festival hopes to foster empathy, curiosity, and intellectual exploration through literature, illustrating the fundamental similarities that people share across lifestyles. Tickets range from €7 (for Friday, Sept. 28 before 1 pm); €15 for admission to the Stefano Bollani performance and access to the Fortezza by 2:30 pm on the same day; €10 (for Saturday and Sunday), and €20 (for a three-day pass), while students displaying school ID can enter for €7 and will receive a free beer.

For more information, visit the web site. (claire francis)