An official statement and an account from Elisabetta Bucciarelli
There’s a great sense of satisfaction among the Organising Committee: the XXII edition of Festivaletteratura continues along the same path started after the twentieth edition in 2016: decreasing the number of overall events but increasing focus on deeper content and and an overall wider usability. Events were expanded to take in new areas of the city (the Casa del Mantegna, which was used for the first time year to host events dedicated to children and youngsters, the Officina del Gas and the Cimitero Monumentale).
And in spite of the reduced number of events, Festivaletteratura bettered last year’s numbers: 62 thousand tickets sold and an estimated 60 thousand admissions at free events, for a total of 122 thousand spectators.
There were also excellent results for the Festival’s web and social network teams: festivaletteratura.it saw a 10% increase in traffic with respect to last year, with 130,000 unique visits to the site and over 700,000 pages viewed; on Facebook, we reached over 200,000 users with our posts and had more than 60,000 interactions; more than 350,000 impressions and 11,000 users added on Instagram; and finally, on Twitter, tweets from the official account had more than half a million views.
Festivaletteratura will be back in 2019, from 4 to 8 September, for the XXIII edition.
This is just an initial impression which only tells part of the story of this year’s Festival. But beyond numbers and page views, there is another, more personal impression, which perhaps better recounts what exactly goes into the Festival, which ends today provided to us by Elisabetta Bucciarelli.
ARE YOU GOING TO MANTUA? by Elisabetta Bucciarelli
I haven’t written a new book this year. But I’m here anyway. Because, first and foremost, I’m a reader. I keep searching for words and believing in the possibility of transforming reality with them. I am in Mantua because my research and writing time is made up of other people’s books, works and music. It is a time for questions, for doubt, for investigation and for inquiry. Few answers. A time for solitude and reflection.
And then Festivaletteratura comes around again, and I know that the time has come for meetings, for hugs, for shaking hands and for affinities to be discovered. Mantua becomes a place for dialogue, where attentive listening is put into practise. It’s healthy for a writer to come across books written by others and to support them on the stage; it’s profoundly civil and necessary. Just as it is important to remain silent when your readers speak to you, to say only what you need to say about your work or offer a different point of view.
This year I lost my lucky sweatshirt but found it against thanks to a young volunteer, I met a person who I’m sure will remain in my life, I found old friends, I grazed the shoulders of humans I will never speak to, I smiled in Piazza Sordello to readers I only ever meet here. I made peace, I spoke my mind, I ate pumpkin tortelli. I walked a lot thinking it was already autumn and instead it’s still summer. I bought nine books, some in pre-release (and I haven’t finished yet).
I spoke about art, fate and destiny, walking in the Giardino dei semplici, and then about women healers, magicians and goddesses in Piazza Castello, in front of almost a thousand attentive faces. I spoke with a poet who came from far away in the walls of the conservatory and someone in the audience was moved. I perceive the need to lighten the view. Defog it.
Words here in Mantua are for everyone. Everyone is free to choose, applaud or disagree. You can comment, share opinions on events the next morning over breakfast or in Piazza Mantegna between an aperitif and a hug. Everyone takes home a thought, sometimes the lightness of laughter. Empathy is cultivated.
Festivaletteratura is among the few landing points yet, at the same time, it is a departure. An attentive, numerous, curious public. Following the work of writers during the rest of the year and, when they feel the need, they establish a link that is nurtured over time. You find yourself immersed in a community. A human richness that perhaps might be the seed of something else to aspire towards, an alchemic formula. You can experience the new. The right to speak is the watchword. You immediately realise who is who, who does what, who is sincere, who acts. There are no filters. Everything is authentic.
This is why I am happy to be part of the polyphonic chorus of this magic every year, because I am aware that every voice has been chosen for its uniqueness, but it is the dimension of the collective work that increases its strength. "Are you going to Mantua?” is the question that all of us (authors and readers) constantly ask from the first months of the year. Saying it is almost a kind of good luck charm.