Fred Kuwornu: Multiculturalism and New Identities by Caroline Perkins and Nicole Ferrari*

Fred Kuwornu and Loredana Tarini

Fred Kuwornu with the Italian Department Coordinator SUF Loredana Tarini

On September 23, activist, producer, and director Fred Kuwornu spoke to students of Syracuse University-Florence concerning the issues of ethnicity, national identity and multiculturalism in contemporary Italy. Kuwornu addressed these topics by presenting and discussing his most recent film entitled 18 IUS SOLI. The documentary follows Continue reading

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Engineering in Florence – New for Spring 2015

Syracuse University in Florencesuabroad Not only Liberal Arts  but also scientific culture will be taught in new courses for Spring 2015 at the SU Florence Center

Contact Gael Noyes at SU Abroad: or (315) 443-0252 Continue reading

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Dacia Maraini e l’Emancipazione delle Scrittrici Italiane


daciamaraini autografi

Dacia Maraini rilascia un autografo alle studentesse SUF Sara DeYoung e Cristina Paluch

Dacia Maraini parla alle nuove generazioni americane e italiane al  Gabinetto Vieusseux  nell’ambito di “Scrittori d’Italia” ciclo di conferenze dedicate agli studenti americani a Firenze, lezioni di letteratura italiana promosso dal Gabinetto Vieussseux, dalla Syracuse University in Florence e dalla Fondazione Palazzeschi (di cui abbiamo ampiamente parlato nel post del 13 /01/ 2014 “Circulating Ideas … )

“Sapevate che su Wikipedia alla voce ‘scrittori italiani’ non appare nessun nome femminile? bisogna andare alla sottocategoria ”Italian Women writers’ e che nell’elenco dei premi Nobel della Letteratura italiani ci sono tutti eccetto  Grazia Deledda?”


Anche Emily Driver e Gabriela Riccardi  studentesse SUF si coplimentano con Dacia Maraini

Così ha esordito la nota scrittrice rivolgendosi alla sala gremita di studenti americani /italiani e appasssionati lettori fiorentini. La Maraini ha coniugato il ciclo (Scrittori d’Italia) al femminile e con la semplicità incisiva che la contraddistingue ha parlato delle scrittrici del ‘900 definendole le sue ‘madri letterarie’

Anna Banti, Elsa Morante, Natalia Ginzburg, Lalla Romano, Annamaria Ortese.

daciamarin 1 aprile ragazze

Emily, Dacia Maraini, Sarah, Cristina e Gabriela

“E’ avvilente che oggi vi siano ancora queste differenze di genere, dobbiamo impegnarci affinchè es. Alda Merini , Amalia Rosselli, Patrizia Cavalli o Mazzucco e Mazzantini vengano storicizzate in una sottocategoria Con il consueto piglio assertivo conclude: “Basta con la “letteratura  femminile”, puntiamo al riconoscimento sociale dello  stile personale”

Gli studenti della SUF hanno apprezzato molto la conferenza in particolare per una riflessione della Maraini che ci è molto cara, quella sulla lingua: la lingua non è solo un veicolo di significati ma uno strumento per creare la propria identità. Attraverso  la lingua si rivendicano le radici del popolo di appartenenza, si sedimentano gli elementi fondanti di una nazione, si vivono i valori condivisi di ieri e di oggi e si prepara il paese di domani .

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Dacia Maraini: Language as Identity by Loredana Tarini*


Dacia Maraini, Loredana Tarini and one of the professor o the Italian Department /SUF Luisa Demuru at the conference of Gabinetto Vieusseux

At the conference held at the Gabinetto Vieusseux for the world renown writer Dacia Maraini, a student in the audience observed that language should be considered a code, a method through which we express ourselves and through which we can be understood by others. Dacia Maraini objected, arguing that language is not just an “instrument,” but rather something much more complex, carrying with itself traces of the past, of history, and of the country from which it came.

In fact, Ms. Maraini goes so far as to say that a country’s identity lies in its language.  When she thinks of what defines Italy and Italians, she doesn’t think of the flag, or of mutable border lines on a map that geographically divide one region  from another; instead, she thinks of the language as representative of the Italian people and their history. 

DACIA MARAINI FOTO ANTOstudentessa autografo

Dacia Maraini at Gabinetto Vieusseux after her conference on “Scrittrici Italiane del Novecento” (Italian Women Writers in 20° Century)

Dacia Maraini’s words reminded me of another scholar who has expressed similar thoughts on the subject.  According to David Crystal, “a world in which only one language survived would be a catastrophe of unprecedented intellectual ecology…and it’s a scenario that could, in theory, emerge anytime between now and the next five hundred years” (La Rivoluzione delle Lingue, 2006).

I can’t help but agree with Crystal – linguistic diversity has a value too great to be calculated. Just like their speakers, languages have their own character, identity and their own soul.

Dacia Maraini le profs

The professors of Italian at SUF: (left) Antonella Battaglia, Luisa Demuru e Antonella Salvia

From the moment in which we learn a language, we do not wish to merely assimilate its written or spoken expression.  Our goal is much deeper than that.  It is, above all, to try to truly assimilate the identity and unique character of the country and its language.  

Languages are also bridges between various cultures and different identities.  Each language, while still maintaining its own identity and individuality, intersects and interacts with other languages.  A language can therefore be seen as an instrument for integrating diversity while still recognizing and respecting the unquestionable importance of its unique individualism. 

What we need to recognize of each language is the weight and uniqueness of its cultural, social and historical values; much more than its syntax or grammar.  

Those of you who are studying or teaching Italian – what are your thoughts on the subject?

 * Italian Language and Culture Coordinator SUF


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Dacia Maraini: What Students Think

Italo Calvino, New York City, 1983Gabriela Riccardi
I’ve spent a great part of my semester with the words of Dacia Maraini. From the first week of our advanced Italian class, we’ve read Dacia’s vivid recollections of her early and later life in Bagheria. Our class has gotten                                                                                                                                        to know Dacia quite intimately through her memoir, and I greatly admire her for the fortitude she writes of through a difficult early life in a WWII concentration champ and postwar poverty.
I was riveted as Dacia walked into the small room in the Palazzo Strozzi – vivacious despite having endured great struggles and youthful despite her years – because I felt as though I knew her from her Italian autobiography, this woman who now stood before me. It was a particularly fascinating experience to listen to her lecture about female writers that preceded her. Because I admire Dacia as a strong woman and ardent feminist, it was a wonderful experience to hear her speak on females that she herself esteems. Additionally, I enjoyed listening to her graciously interact and discuss with people whose views diverged from her own. I was thrilled to be able to listen to and meet this incredible woman in an event we’ve been building up to since January!

Dacia Maraini due studenti

Ben Feldmann and Annlie Amlin, SUF students

Ben Feldman

Dacia Maraini pubblico e angelo

Italian / American Students and Florentines at the conference of Dacia Maraini at Gabinetto Vieusseux, last April, 1st 2014

The conference at the Palazzo Strozzi – consisting of the keynote speaker Dacia Maraini – was a great experience where I gained insight into Italian intellectual culture.(…)
Even though I only understand a few of the concepts, I gained an understanding of something indescribable through words. Simply listening in such a beautiful library was very valuable to me. Thank you!

Sophie Berman
The lecture given by Dacia Maraini was fantastic! This was the first solely Italian lecture I have gone to and it gave me the opportunity to really see how much I know. I was able to follow for a good amount! (…) The most interesting part was listening to the question exchange at the end. I also enjoyed learning a bit about past female Italian writers.

Jackie Tissiere
(…) I was glad to have the opportunity to participate in an event with other Italians and it was interesting to see the difference from now Americans would normally behave: questions weren’t questions, but rather critiques and comments, and talking over each other seems to be an okay thing.

Angilbea Nobel Loho
I didn’t fully understand much of what being said […] However, when we discussed it in class the next day, I think the whole class participated in a very involved discussion on the influence of language on culture, so in that sense, the event was very interesting and educational. (…)

Melissa NG
I’m interested in writing so it was great for me to hear from such a prestigious female writer. She said some beautiful things about the language containing a Nation’s identity.


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Pane, Zucchero, Vino Chianti e la Leggenda del Gallo Nero


spazio conv8

Spazio Conversazione – the Tuesday meeting with Italian students and the typical Tuscan cuisine

Nel consueto Spazio Conversazione del  Martedì, il 25 Febbraio scorso abbiamo assaggiato “Pane, Zucchero e Vino Chianti. Continue reading

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I Like Florentine Crafts


Cinzia Th. Torrini (in the middle) author and director of the documentary
” Florence World Capital of the Artistic Crafts” Vasco Galgani President of Chamber of Commerce (right) and .Director of Florence Artistic Crafts Foundation Enrica Maria Paoletti

The waiver and the hand loom

Artisan’s hand

Pottery and the potter

Wood carving and the the wood carver

Appreciating artisanal Florentine craftsmanship is easy – just as easy as it is to appreciate Cinzia TH Torrini’s documentary “Florence: World Capital of Art and Craftsmanship,” promoted by  the Florence Artistic Crafts and financed by the Chamber of Commerce

The film director goes straight to the heart of the matter, exalting a refinement of taste Continue reading

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Filomena: Host Mom and Guardian Angel by Olivia O’Connell

One of the most memorable aspects of studying abroad is the opportunity to live with a family native to your host country. Integrating yourself into a household with established dynamics where the primary language is likely different from your own is overwhelming at first, and getting used to the every day cultural differences can be bizarre. (I still don’t understand why clothes dryers are largely absent in this country.) In the end, though, the transformation from host family into surrogate family is a phenomenon that is bound to leave a lasting impression.

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The” Mela Cotogna”: a Sustainable Golden Apple

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, The Big Apple,  Snow White bites the apple, and Steve Jobs’s brand is a bitten apple. But what was this “forbidden fruit” actually like? A common legend says that the Golden Apple of mythology may have been a quince (called “mela cotogna” in Italian).  More similar to a yellowish pear, cultivation of the quince may  have preceded that of the apple.  apple logo

Many references translated to “apple”, such as the fruit in Song of Songs, may have been a quince. Among the ancient Greeks, the quince was a ritual offering at weddings, for it had come from the Levant with Aphrodite and remained sacred to her.

Wikipedia reports:the fruit was known to the Akkadians, who called it supurgillu; Arabic سفرجل al safarjal “quinces”.The modern name originated    in the 14th century as a plural of quoyn, via Old French cooin from Latin cotoneum malum / cydonium malum, ultimately from Greek κυδώνιονμῆλον, kydonion melon “Kydonian MELACOTOGNAFOTOapple”.

The quince tree is native to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Pakistan, Kashmir, Afghanistan and was introduced to Poland, Syria, Lebanon, Croatia, Bosnia, Turkey, Serbia, Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova, and Bulgaria. Plutarch reported that a Greek bride would nibble a quince to perfume her kiss before entering the bridal chamber, “in order that the first greeting may not be disagreeable nor unpleasant”.

It was a quince that Paris awarded Aphrodite. It was for a golden quince that Atalanta paused in her race. The Romans also used quinces: the Roman cookbook of Apicius gives recipes for stewing quince with honey, and even combining them, unexpectedly, with leeks. Pliny the Elder mentioned the one variety, Mulvian quince, that could be eaten raw. Columella mentioned three, one of which, the “golden apple” that has donated its name in Italian to the tomato, “pomodoro” 

SUF students tasted  mela cotogna in one “Spazio Conversazione” weekly meeting on typical Italian sustainable food with their Italian peers. In Italy it is used as the main ingredient of some local variants of a traditional food called mostarda (not to be confused with mustard), in which quince fruit jam is mixed with candied fruit, spices and flavorings to produce a spread that is used on boiled meat, mixed with cheese. Examples are “mostarda vicentina” or “mostarda di Vicenza” and “mostarda veneta.” In Tuscany it is used to make jam and the jelly sweet cream “cotognata”.

Quinces are also used in Parma to produce a typical liqueur called “sburlone”, word coming from the local dialect and meaning the necessary high stress to squeeze those hard fruits to obtain their juice.

spazio conv4

SUF Fall 2013 -Tuesdays meetings of “Spazio Conversazione and Sustainable Italian Food: la Mela Cotogna”


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Canta che ti Passa!

” Canta che ti passa!”  è un’ espressione molto diffusa nella lingua italiana che sta a significare ” non spaventarti e cura le preoccupazioni e i timori con il canto”. La funzione terapeutica del canto  è  nota sin dall’antichità, dai miti del cantore Orfeo alla letteratura del ‘Canzoniere’ del Petrarca che scrive”Perchè cantando il duol si disacerba”.  E gli italiani hanno preso alla lettera il consiglio del Poeta visto che  cose di cui aver timore ne abbiamo molte, qui nel Bel Paese.

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