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Cervo ti Strega

An appointment with the finalists and winner of Italy’s most acclaimed literary prize on 9 July in piazza dei Corallini

With its enchanting square overlooking the sea, castle and rock-perched village, Cervo never ceases to charm and astonish. Recently awarded the title of “Town that reads”, Cervo actually has an unexpected link with the most prestigious Italian literary accolade, Premio Strega. The name resonates in the village due to the strong connection between the writer Orsola Nemi and the award’s creator, Maria Bellonci. Nemi lived in the village for many years with her husband Henry Furst, rubbing shoulders with some of the 20th century’s most eminent intellectuals. Cervo ti Strega (Cervo bewitches), which is now in its fourth year, was conceived by Francesca Rotta Gentile, Orsola Nemi’s granddaughter, to pay homage to and remember that friendship, bringing the finalists and winner of this highly prized accolade to piazza dei Corallini.

Cervo will welcome the five Premio Strega finalists on Sunday 25 June, their final public appearance before the eventual winner is announced. The host for this seaside literary salon will be Alessandra Tedesco, voice of Radio 24 with the programme Il cacciatore di libri (The book hunter). There will also be jazz and folk music played by Fabio Tessitore and Roberto Frazzetto, as well as readings by Franco La Sacra. In addition, the finalists will be interviewed by a number of students-readers from schools in the Imperia area sitting on the Premio Strega Giovani judging panel (a related competition whose judges are exclusively youngsters). The students will already have read the twelve competing books, which were presented on 24 May, and cast their vote.

As is customary, the five finalist authors will be announced on Wednesday 14 June at Casa Bellonci, the headquarters of the foundation responsible for overseeing the competition. To mark 70 years of the Premio Strega, the winner of the 2017 award will be announced on 6 July at the Ninfeo di Villa Giulia in Rome. And so, the future winner who will attend Cervo ti Strega in piazza dei Corallini on Sunday 9 July, is already amongst the twelve finalists. The host for the evening will be the charismatic Giampiero Mughini, pundit, journalist and, as he prefers to describe himself, bibliographer. There will be musical interludes by the singer-songwriter Francesca Pilade and composer Diego Genta.

The conference Un piccolo tesoro di lingua: database dei romanzi vincitori (A small treasure of language: database of winning novels) has been scheduled for Sunday 25 June, with speaker Vittorio Coletti, History of the Italian language professor at the University of Genoa. This event, dedicated to Tullio De Mauro, the renowned linguist, former Minister for Education and previous president of the Premio Strega, will be attended by Giovanni Solimine, president of the Fondazione Bellonci since February 2017. It will take place at Castello dei Clavesana (Clavesana Castle), which will also host the AUTORItratti per il Premio Strega photography exhibition by Riccardo Musacchio and Flavio Ianniello.

Finally, to get things going there will be a “bewitched” tasting, with cocktails and the now-traditional chocolates and Liquore Strega liqueur.

Alessandra Chiappori.

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