As I'm sure you already know, Italy is known for it's amazing cuisine (which I am going to miss dearly when I get home tomorrow) and CEA has really spoiled us with opportunities to try all different kinds of Italian foods. One of my favorite experiences was a lunch outing we went on with my Sociology class which exposed us to the unique cuisine associated with a fairly recent movement called Slow Food. After McDonalds invaded the Piedmont in the 1980s, a man named Carlo Petrini started this movement in order to encourage people to practice cleaner and healthier food practices. Slow Food advocates for the use of seasonal, local foods that are prepared and served with the intent to bring people together over their meal. For more information, check out the Slow Food international website.
Earlier in the semester, I had the pleasure of sitting down with an Italian documentary and film maker who happens to be a friend of my history professor. Lorenzo Conte is one half of a reasonably well-known filmmaking duo who produce films about organized crime in Italy. He and his partner, Davide Barletti, are known mostly for their documentaries but in 2007, they made a feature film called Fine Pena Mai which is based on the autobiography of Antonio Perrone, a member of Sacra Corona United, the now disbanded criminal organization which operated in Puglia in the 1980s.
During our interview, Lorenzo told me a bit about how the movie came to be and how it has impacted his life and career. The film came to life with the help of some of the real-life protagonists with whom Lorenzo and Davide still maintain a close relationship; Lorenzo names Perrone's wife Daniela as one of the main reasons why the film was such a success. He says that working with this actual people was both a blessing a a great responsibility because it was imperative that he bring as much of their reality into the film as possible. He never minded the responsibility, though, because he says that in order to really understand organized crime, you MUST understand the people who are involved. While the film was never a great success, Lorenzo sees it as a dream come true. He was able to accomplish everything that he could in a documentary but he did so in a feature film which he considers to be a huge milestone. Moreover, he says that it was a very personal growing experiences that changed him both as a film maker and a person.
Thank you very much for your attention and interest over the course of the semester. Writing for you has given me the chance to reflect on my experiences a little more than usual for which I am grateful. My only regret is that I can only give you words - they don't do these experiences justice. But I hope you enjoyed reading about them, nevertheless, and please think of them if you ever have the chance to visit Rome.
By Caitlin Smith
University of Maryland, Baltimore County