At the Intersection of Sport and Literature

8 9 2017

At the Intersection of Sport and Literature

What could the legends Coppi and Bartali, the world champion Primo Carnera and the skill of Tazio Nuvolari have in common with some of the most famous figures from the history of Italian literature such as De Amicis, Marinetti, Saba, Buzzati, Pratolini, Calvino and Montanelli? Seemingly nothing. But in reality, there is a world of stories, poems and texts which celebrate that special combination of sports and literature.

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This is the spirit that encapsulates the theatre piece Ginnastica della letteratura italiana: a historical, literary and sporting journey through the myths, iconography and tales of sport. Luca Scarlini's tale turns sport into a social metaphor; the bicycle as a sign of freedom, boxing as a way of reinventing sad lives. From "the predominance of gymnastics on the book" (F.T. Marinetti, "Il programma politico futurista", 1913) to modern tales. Sport that tells the story of Italy. The 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia further celebrates the role of the bicycle that constitutes a literary and sporting epic. There are numerous authors who, under the aegis of the Gazzetta dello Sport, have travelled long and wide in order to report on the different champions.

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Among the books and anecdotes, Scarlini's monologue traces the sporting and literary history of Italy from the end of the nineteenth century to the early 1980s. This is the spirit with which the Palestra Letteraria was created: a space where, walking between blue gymnastic mats, footballs, medals, trophies, climbing ropes and Olympic rings suspended from the ceiling, you can explore the works that best represent the union between sport and literature.

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The exhibition space, containing more than 400 titles, is open to everyone and it is supported by a number of multimedia texts made available by the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence. Visitors can consult a wide range of titles to further explore the relationship between literature and the world of sport. And it's not just limited to literature: there is a diverse musical playlist which collects some of the most famous works about the famous events in Italian sports. A synthesis between the sporting world and some of the best Italian singer songwriters to create another thought-provoking scenario, conjuring up feats from the history of the Italian sporting imagination.