Our interview with Edoardo Nesi
The Tuscan writer and his strong bond with Forte dei Marmi
The sky is perfect, so miraculously clear that it seems painted: not even a cloud swelling white on the horizon or stretched into streaks by the winds high up until it dissolves into total blue, and the sea is just rippled by a light breeze that comes from Corsica, its blue just slightly deeper than that of the sky, as if it were engaged in a vain attempt to mimic its perfection as it kisses a long strip of fine white sand that stretches as far as the eye can see and seems to want to protect it from looming mountains so high and implausible that they seem to have just emerged from the earth due to some mysterious underworld movement, adorned with impenetrable woods, lacerated by deep veins of pure white marble.
So begins one of Edoardo Nesi’s most captivating novels, L’Estate Infinita (The Endless Summer) Published in 2015, with a language as effective as dense, textured brushstrokes, the book tells of a Versilia that belongs to each of us, whether we spent a summer here or ... all of our youth.An initial interlude in the textile business - linked to the DNA of his hometown, Prato - then the city’s Provincial Councillor for Culture and Deputy of the Republic, Edoardo Nesi has been a writer since adolescence. His passion for reading, especially science fiction, soon developed into a desire to write short stories. He immediately demonstrated an ability to identify, in an elegant, captivating way, the torments of an in-between generation trapped between an excessively glittering past and a present that has now shown all its dark side. He won the 2011 Strega Prize with Storia della mia Gente (Story of my People) in which he describes the Prato textile industry and his family’s history. L’estate infinita was awarded the 2015Cortina d’Ampezzo Prize. His latest work is Economia sentimentale (Sentimental Economy), published in 2020. “Versilia, especially Forte dei Marmi, is not a place, it’s a state of mind, an appeal to each ones’ memories”: with these words by Edoardo, we begin a journey to ‘his’ Versilia.
PLACES NOT TO BE MISSED
The streets of Roma Imperiale
“Time seems to have stopped here: bikes, fair-haired children, Vespa scooters, pine trees giving shade to the streets. Everything is unchanged and maybe perfect, like in the endless summers of the 1960s”
“A walkway reaching the buoys, beautiful at dawn and sunset, when the beach is empty. It reminds me of when I was a kid, and I would swim and hang out with my friends after dancing at the Capannina”
“I’ve never seen such a long beach and such fine sand, so elegant. Everything happens on the beach, even falling in love”
“I’m not too fond of it now. I enjoyed going through it by night, when I was young, on a Jeep that could barely make it through the paths. It was probably prohibited, I don’t know. It was nice, though”
“I spent my holidays here as a child. It has always been a special place to me. Now and then I jump on my Vespa and go see my friend Fabio Genovesi, writer and shaman, a master of cycle racing, a hot pepper grower and expert, the soul of Versilia”
Edoardo Nesi’s favourite places: off the most glamorous itineraries, the Tuscan writer has told us about an ancient, elegant and silent Versilia. Where there is no nostalgia for the past, but fragments of authenticity
The Viani family’s restaurant, downtown Forte dei Marmi. Sublime and yet very simple cuisine. Every morning, since always, Lorenzo goes hunting for the best fish on Viareggio’s and Versilia’s wharfs. But there is much more to it.
You have to go looking for Orlando, hidden as it is in Roma Imperiale’s pinewood. As a kid, I would go there from Vittoria Apuana to have pizza, which is not exactly pizza, schiacciata bread with tiny arselle clams, soft fruit cakes, raspberries with custard. I used to go even by night, one thousand years ago, after the Capannina.
Piazza dei Cavallini
The kingdom of little boys and girls. There is no other place on earth where an entire square, and a sort of circuit, is devoted to children’s entertainment. I’ve spent many an afternoon helping my kids in and out of the little Formula One-style cars and pony-drawn carts. And the fishing game, where everybody won and, for some years now I was told, jumping with elastic bands: kids are shot into the air like astronauts, with the blue sky in the background.
Downtown Forte dei Marmi
It was so lovely forty years ago, with the small crafts shops, the artisans, the clicking of clogs, the sweet smell of focaccine at Valè’s, where we gathered at sunset. Everything is different now. There is only one corner still nearly intact: the piazza with the fort, the well and the Apuan mountains as the backdrop. With a bit of imagination and a little heart-aching you can still breathe the old-style Forte.