- FEBRUARY 2018 -
HOME - Bridge Italy - Bologna - From his ancestral Calabria to Roma Precious memories of a lifetime
From his ancestral Calabria to Roma
Precious memories of a lifetime
In Francesco Leonetti’s memoir, Una come un’altra, published by Gangemi, the reconstruction of the experiences of a lifetime with the backdrop of Italy in the last sixty years and more distant family memories by Sergio D’Amaro
SHARE Facebook Twitter

Racine, Wisconsin, USA. About 1914.
Pietro Zaccarelli, the author's maternal
grandfather, sitting beside his cousin
who emigrated to United States.
Photo taken from Una come
by Francesco Leonetti,
Gangemi Editore

Sometimes I withdraw to the upper floor of the house, I furtively watch the swallows returning to feed their young in nests under the eaves, once again I see some of the books in my little bookshelf with the old price in lire, I take old sepia colored photos out of drawers… from the open balcony I look at the green mountain opposite where the sun is setting and the evening seems to be quietly returning”.

This narrative passage conveys the human depth of Francesco Leonetti, who has just finished a lifetime as a dermatologist at the San Gallicano Hospital in Roma, but is of Calabrian origin. Strongly impressed on his memory is the town of Montalto Uffugo with its ancient Roman ruins, the second hometown for the musician Ruggero Leoncavallo (in whose honor the international opera contest is named). The discussion, confrontation, or perhaps more broadly the structuring of segments of life through this autobiographical book, Una come un’altra (Roma, Gangemi, 2013, pp. 173, € 18), defines his experience which has been a fruitful process of human and professional learning and enrichment. And to think that Leonetti, like many of his generation, left an area of the south that until after the war remained anchored to a rigid peasant farming lifestyle, marked by hard daily labor and by an ancestral culture that had a proverb for every situation and every relationship (as can be seen from the long list in the book).

A life of ordinary scope, one might say. But really, what is ordinary or commonplace in the life of each individual? To begin with, Leonetti as an adolescent had to cope with the severity of a boarding school, at Cerreto Sannita, which however forged his character and prepared him for later trials, anything but easy to deal with. The next step was Rome, but not just any old Rome since the author encountered it at the height of the Sixties, when the clamor of the boom and splendor of Cinecittà that had gone international multiplied the stimuli, opportunities, initiatives, and decisive experiences.

Military service as a medical officer added another facet to his journey, taking Leonetti first to Florence and then to the top of the eastern Alps, to test himself in adventurous rock-climbing maneuvers and to marvel with binoculars at the alpinists climbing Tofane, the three peaks of Lavaredo, the Five Towers and mount Civetta. The mountains digs up obstacles to overcome, peaks to conquer, challenges with which to test oneself at every step.

After decades of a life of calm commitment, Leonetti returns now and then to his old town. It is like finding the path again, like seeing once again the no less mysterious sign of his own destiny. The dermatologist’s craft has trained him not to stop on the surface, but to look deeper down for the riches of life. This seems to be his message in filigree, offered with cordiality and discretion to the reader that wants to listen.

More articles
Culture   Eugenio Barba On Life and Theatrical Thought and Practice Culture   Mark Bradford and Wade Guyton Million dollar American art that’s taking Italy by storm Culture   “Poverty is sexist” The young ambassadors of ONE in Paris against extreme poverty Culture   The middle-eastern origin of blown glass, the pride of Venice Culture   “You don’t know the South” 
The culture of the South relaunched in Otranto Culture   Those Southern women who express the world Culture   Andy Warhol The immortal guru of Pop Art Culture   “Angels and saints in Chicago and Baltimora” Cultural exchanges between the University of Bari and the US Culture   Those farm women, thrilled at their first sight of the sea… Culture   My Puglia as seen from the UN Culture   Forty young Italians with ONE for the fight against world hunger Culture   “American Dreamers” The new dream of eleven American artists on show in Florence Culture   The Fulbright Project? An extraordinary opportunity for a cultural exchange
Books   Not even love transforms the Stock Exchange of destinies Books   And the dream of conquest turned into a mirage of the desert Books   Joseph’s Gargano Books   The tragedy of Mattmark A book so as not to forget Books   Journey through the gardens of Italy Books   When poetry investigates “time” Books   Amidst the storms of life it’s the strength of a loving heart that wins Books   That valley in the Gargano so rich in history that must not be forgotten Books   Grottaglie and its pottery through the life of the benefactor Vincenzo Calò Books   Eighty years of joyful culture Books   Sergeant Romano’s siege like in a movie Books   The magnificent eighty Books   San Marco in Lamis seen from its bell-tower Books   A great love for splendid Castro Books   Better not come home... Letters between Italy and America during the first World War Books   Story of a poet between Puglia and America Books   Worked to death under the sun of Puglia Books   When forgotten objects tell a life story Books   Masserie of Puglia Journey amidst Beauty Books   An excursion into the Salentine dialect … Mai pe iabbu Books   The moral revival of the South can start from its “best” Books   Life, anyway! Books   Rainbow of women Books   Amidst the mountains of Val d’Aosta …in pursuit of the culprit Books   …Once upon a time there was the past Writing about it to preserve the memory Books   Disorder and experimentation in the museum-houses of Ignazio Apolloni Books   Salento stories …in search of lost time Books   Pietro Marti, the great standard-bearer of Salento culture Books   Even tycoons cry Books   If a “whale” island appears one night out of nowhere… Books   The importance of rediscovering “fraternity” Books   In the wax museum to seek the dream of a better world Books   Naples “Kissed by God and raped by Man” Books   Once upon a time there was the padre-padrone Books   Second World War The drama of the fallen Books   On the Savannah lagoons …to heal Books   The meaning of the 20th century in the saga of the Stille family Books   In Fellini’s La dolce vita the germs of today’s Italy Basilicata   Craco The “second life” of a ghost town Po Delta   The Po Delta park Natural beauty and history Bari   “Cieli americani” in Bari Verona   Verona Shakespeare celebrated its beauty without ever having seen it Courmayeur   Courmayeur All the charm of the low season Ferrara   You can still dream in Ferrara Ferrara   “Action!” Amongst Ferrara’s myriad sets Music   Porretta Soul Festival The Italian Woodstock of black American music Matera   Pasolini-Matera Fifty years ago the first Gospel in the Sassi Naples   “Wood Stone and Friends” Jimmie Durham’s magic vitalism at the MADRE Naples   Art miracles at Vigna San Martino Naples   The Hermann Nitsch Museum From horror to awareness Bologna   Do you want to be FICO? In Bologna you can Bologna   Bologna “The Learned”, “The Fat”, “The Red” Bologna   At the MAMbo Arte Povera on display Polignano   From Brooklyn to Polignano Twelve artists out to conquer Europe Movies   With The Revenant DiCaprio rises again and aims for the Oscar Movies   Quo Vado? When the southern redneck turns politically correct Movies   When the cinema returns to the future Best of Italy   Andria Pietro Zito’s vegetable garden This is where his prize-winning dishes originate Best of Italy   The best Milanese panettone is… Salentine San Marino   “From Hopper to Warhol” on the gentle hills of San Marino San Marino   San Marino Historic appeal amidst breathtaking panoramas Turin   Reggia di Venaria Reale A treasure rediscovered Turin   The Egyptian Museum of Turin The immortal appeal of the Pharaohs Turin   “For President” Photogenic qualities will win the elections Padua   So much… In the city of the three “withouts” Milan   EXPO 2015 Not just food Milan   The oneiric inspirations of Joan Jonas Milan   “Autunno americano” Milan celebrates the States Milan   MILAN The metropolis is still “to drink” (…and “to eat”) Rome   “Empire State” New York is still the epicenter of art Venice   The immortal charm of the 
“Queen of the Sea” Venice   So many “Illumi/nations” with the Biennale d’Arte Rovigo   History and Art In the capital of the Polesine Rovigo   “Divisionism, the light of what is modern” 200 works on show in Rovigo