[Bookseller and publisher] The owner of the Colonnese bookstore and publishing house, one of the most prestigious in Naples, he manages the bookshop at the Reggia di Caserta and also owns a part share in Libri & Caffè, the literary bistrot at the Mercadan
Naples in three adjectives?
Ancestral, sensual and like an oxymoron.
Naples in three snapshots?
The historic centre seen from the hill of Petraio, Piazza Bellini at sunset, Nisida seen from via Manzoni.
If Naples were a song?
‘Apucundria’, by Pino Daniele. It mirrors the city’s deep sense of melancholy to perfection.
And if it was a book?
About this mendacious life, by Giuseppe Montesano. Its protagonists are the Negromante family, unscrupulous Neapolitan entrepreneurs, the undisputed lords of the city. They decide to build a historically-themed playground in the city and do not hesitate to devalue centuries of history to build an opulent Roman-style metropolis in golden plastic and chalk. This results in a veiled underground uprising in the small streets of the historic centre to oppose this unnatural dismemberment. A wonderful book.
The coffee ritual. Tell us about yours?
I drink too much coffee. I like it bitter and I drink it slowly, taking small sips.
What is the place ‘dearest to your heart’ in Naples?
That’s an easy one! My bookshop in via San Pietro in Majella, amidst my books, the notes of music emanating from the nearby Conservatory and the wellworn streets that have been trodden, for centuries, by the Neapolitan people.
What role does the culture of books play in Naples?
Naples is not only a real city, with physical boundaries, but also one that is largely represented by a series of stories, ideas, narrative and visions. Naples lives through the eyes of its authors. A symbiotic, almost necessary relationship, exists between the city and its books.
Nowadays, people tend to read less. What can be done to attract new readers ?
First and foremost, produce beautiful books: there tend to be fewer and fewer around. And then to see new technologies as an opportunity rather than a threat; possibly by inventing something that will transform traditional objects into new ‘readable’ objects.
What do books mean to you?
To paraphrase Jorge Luis Borge, “Of the various instruments invented by man, the most amazing is the book; all others are extensions of his body… Only the book is an extension of the imagination and memory”.
What is missing in Naples to make it a truly European city?
A ‘shared idea’ of the future. Or rather, come to think of it, also of the past and the present: in Naples nobody agrees about anything, and this isolates us in a kind of ‘non-history’.