The gap between our perception of the United States and reality
We all know everything there is to know about the United States of America, or so we think. American imagery, pop culture, media and ideas seem to have permeated our world in its entirety. But perhaps few gaps are as difficult to fill as the one between the European perception of the Land of the Free and its reality. Marta Ciccolari Micaldi, the Italian journalist known as la McMusa, dedicated her career to the definition, the exploration, and ultimately the filling of this gap. Her primary means of doing this, interconnected, are travel and books.
In Piazza Sordello, the central square in Mantua surrounded by palaces, columns, stone and history, Ciccolari Micaldi spoke of a world made up of neon lights, roads, immense spaces and cement, offering a taste of her American adventures through the works of three authors who kept her company in the understanding of a culture that might seem to be closer than it actually is.
We visited the Illinois State Fair, as experienced and told by David Foster Wallace in his A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, depicting a world where the contrast between metropolis and open areas turns into a polarized view of the crowd, which can be both something to escape from and something to look for.
We then moved to Chiara Barzini’s Things That Happened Before the Earthquake and her account of the beauty of Los Angeles, so distant from the European ideal of a beautiful city, almost resembling a teenager to eyes more used to marble cathedrals, and yet so fascinating in its alien, exploding charisma.
Our journey came to a close admiring the unexpected elegance of the contemporary cowboy, as told by Larry McMurtry in Lonesome Dove, a story where the conquering of the immense American landscape takes place through care and silence. And then we find ourselves back in Mantua, reminded of the fact that words and pages can be our planes and highways.
Here is a link to a complete recording of the event (in Italian):