The president of the Dante Alighieri Society: “The Titan well represents the ideals we live and spread”
“I will have the opportunity to present the reality of the role of our language as a vehicle of a culture and I would also say of a way of living and of facing the challenges of the present in globalization”. These are the words with which Andrea Riccardi, president of the Dante Alighieri Society, begins by offering an anticipation of the lectio magistralis that he will hold during the inauguration ceremony of the Academic Year 2021-22 of the University of the Republic of San Marino. The historian, former Italian Minister for International Cooperation and Integration, as well as founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, outlines in the answer to three questions the framework of an intervention that will see him protagonist in front of academics, students, institutional and non-institutional representatives solo. Appointment Tuesday 19 October from 3 pm at the Kursaal Congress Center.
The title of his lectio magistralis is represented by a question: is there a ‘world’ in Italian?
Yes, I answer with availability: in recent years I have noticed the attractiveness of our language even on non-Italian people of origin. I coined the term ‘Italsimpatia’, due to the interest in Italian, the fourth most studied language in the world after English, Spanish and Chinese, although the twenty-first as a speaker. An interest that also turns to culture, art, music and singing – in particular linked to opera sung in Italian all over the world – to food as well as to design, fashion and much more: a sympathy, in short , for the ‘Italian way of life’.
In what context does your speech take place?
The global world represents a revolution, not only in communications or in the economy, but in politics, in life, in relationships. It has produced a world that is closer, but not united. Indeed, as a reaction, many identities have risen: fundamentalisms, nationalisms and sovereignties, with a conflicting language. Italian can be a gentle, not overbearing force, like a human and humanistic proposal, a taste for life together with others.
What ambitions will you want to consult?
Dante has had different roles in the history of the twentieth century: it was born in 1889, during the formation of the national state founded not on an ‘ethnic’ homogeneity but on the voluntary adherence to an identity, in which language plays a decisive role. At the time, Italy was not linguistically ‘one’. Tullio De Mauro states that with the Unification, only 600,000 spoke Italian out of 25 million. There is also the challenge of keeping together those ‘pieces’ of Italianness, made up of emigrants from all over the world… they were those ‘lost millions of Italians’ that Dante Alighieri was looking at. Dante’s mission was – at the beginning of these 130 years – in the various contests, to connect those ‘pieces of the homeland’ outside the borders, but now it is above all a question of cultivating and promoting the Italian language and culture in the world. It is the idea of an Italian world larger than Italy: today the reality of about 400 Committees and schools in the world.
What do the invitation from the University of San Marino and the awarding of the PhD in Historical Sciences represent?
The Republic of San Marino has a special relationship with Dante Alighieri and with its headquarters in the prestigious and Renaissance Palazzo Firenze in Rome, formerly the residence of the Medici. In fact, the San Marino ambassador regularly participates in the Company’s Central Council. I also feel connected to San Marino for very personal reasons related to my childhood in the land of Romagna. In recent years, collaboration in favor of humanitarian and cooperation initiatives has enriched the dialogue between San Marino and the Community of Sant’Egidio, in which I am personally involved. I therefore feel honored and ‘at home’ in San Marino. Honored to be awarded a PhD in Historical Sciences by the prestigious University and at the same time close and friend to one of the most ancient independent States, with a peaceful history, of inclusion and dialogue that well represents the ideals that Dante lives and spreads.