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#WeAreWithItaly // Christine Dwyer Hickey



#WeAreWithItaly // Christine Dwyer Hickey

Christine Dwyer Hickey sent us this wonderful narration of how she fell in love with Italy for #WeAreWithItaly. We are truly grateful for her solidarity and for all the kind messages we have been getting in the last few weeks.

Click HERE or see below for a video (in English with Italian subtitles) of Christine in Milan talking about her novel Tatty, as well as some great historical footage of Dublin.


«It was 1993 when I discovered Italy. That visit was to Venice. And yes, I know - who wouldn’t fall in love with Venice? But it was the same the following year when I went with my husband to Florence and Lucca. And the year after that, when we tried Rome and Sorrento. In fact, every year for the next few years we made it our business to discover another area of Italy including Sicily. And I remained smitten. The exception was 1996. Then, I had to go to New York to carry out research for a novel and found myself regretting that I hadn’t sent my characters to Italy instead of Brooklyn. During that trip, I went twice to Little Italy in Lower Manhattan– as if that could possibly be any substitute for the real thing.
It was inevitable, I suppose that we would end up buying a place in Italy. This happened in 2005 when after many starts and stops, near misses and countless dramas, we finally managed to close a deal on an apartment on the Ligurian coast. It’s a modest apartment but with a view to die for, and a ten-minute stroll downhill to the sea (a twenty-minute slog on the way back up). The town is called Imperia Oneglia, situated between San Remo and Genova. It is perhaps, not the prettiest town along that coastline but a town that is friendly and lively all year round. There is the usual Piazza and fountain; the twice-weekly market; small shops huddled on narrow streets; a theatre and a cinema. And most importantly of all, there is a small fishing port surrounded by a row of restaurants where the fish hardly get time to draw breath before they’re gutted and bunged into the oven.
We’ve had our ups and downs of course, have occasionally been almost strangled by the red tape of bureaucracy and a system that is occasionally, beyond our comprehension. We’ve had our rows too - usually over car parking spaces. The Italians can get very excited about parking. But we love it there and our only problem now, is getting in ahead of our three adult children and their respective partners, who love it just as much.

In these long dark days of the Covid 19 crisis, we worry about Italy as much as we worry about Ireland and are saddened by the amount of death and sickness suffered by an entire nation which in our experience anyway, must surely be among the most hospital in the world. The last time we were there was this January. I was on a book tour in the north of Italy. This was for a novel called The Cold Eye of Heaven. It is my second novel to be translated into Italian by the independent publishes PaginaUno. It is the story of one man’s life told backwards from the age of 75. It is also the story of Dublin over the same time. In Italy it is known simply as Farley.
I love book tours in Italy where even the smallest venue makes a celebration out of an event. And I love the way there is always food involved. At the end of the session, book shops miraculously turn into supper clubs. The audience is always engaged, never shy about asking a question or indeed, of offering an opinion or two. In Milan, I was surprised by the amount of young men who turned up (the music afterwards and free beer may have had something to do with that). Yet these young men appeared to have read the book cover to cover. In Monza, the event turned into what amounted to a cocktail party, and was held in a book shop called after Virginia Wolfe, simply because the owner is a devotee of the writer. And Venice – ah Venice! Even on my 10th visit, it still makes my heart stop.
Life in Northern Italy was as usual back then. In Milan the models swanned in and out of Lavazza café on Piazza Fedele. Piazza Duomo heaved with life and the Galleria with the echoes of footsteps and conversation. In Bologna, where there are as many food shops as there used to be pubs in Irish towns, we strolled around Piazza Maggiore in winter sunshine, watching the locals stop and kiss and chat and linger...
All that seems so long ago now; a time that belongs to the past. I have no idea when we will be able to return to Italy. Like the rest of the world, we can only wait and hope».


Christine Dwyer Hickey is a novelist and short story writer.

Twice winner of the Listowel Writers’ Week short story competition and a winner of the Observer/Penguin short story award, her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies world-wide.

She is a member of the Irish Arts Academy and Aosdana.

Christine has taught creative writing and given master classes in various venues including Trinity College Dublin, Listowel Writers Week and the Irish Writers’ Centre.

She has delivered lectures on a variety of subjects, most recently - the influence of James Joyce on her writing (Abbey Theatre Dublin) and the influence of childhood on the work of writers (Kate O’Brien festival, Limerick).

She is a regular contributor to radio and television shows.


A few weeks ago we launched #WeAreWithItaly, an open call to collect messages of solidarity to be shared on the IIC social media channels, for Italy and indeed all parts of the world confronting the Covid-19 emergency. Anybody with an existing connection to Italy, or who wishes to join the tributes that have been pouring from all over as means to breach the distance in this time of separation, is welcome to follow these simple steps:

• Make a video recording with their smartphone OR write a message and choose a picture to go with it;
• Send the material to using the platform WeTransfer if necessary.

We believe it is extremely important to foster unity in the extraordinary situation that we all have to confront right now and we would be happy to receive your contribution, which will be uploaded to our social media to endorse a powerful message of social cohesion.


Data: Gio 30 Apr 2020

Ingresso : Libero

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