Debora is beautiful, tall, creative, she has the gift of spreading intelligence in a nice way, she is well accompanied and, more or less in a month, she will be a mother. One wonders: who makes him do it, then, to experiment, almost compulsively, new and alternative paths? Yet, she does not stand still and will not stand. You live in Riccione, the Pearl of the Adriatic always in the middle of the ford between the paradise remembered by tourists and the hell described by those in the opposition, from left to right depending on the electoral response. Her father is a chef who has managed important restaurants, her mother is a trader: people who know where the bread comes from and used to putting the bread in the farmhouse.
She, Debora, who despite having brilliantly graduated in Pharmacy and could practice, does anything else, we’ll find out what. Last spring Roberto Mugavero, patron of “Minerva”, sent me the book he had just published, “The sea didn’t do it him”, an enjoyable novel set in the Riccione of the fascist era, written by the narrator born in 1990, Debora Grossi, set in a Riviera “dressed up for the party” and convinced that the war, in the summer, could not even be conceived. A tale with the tones of a fairytale that cleverly anticipates the tragedy. I was struck by it, I invited the girl to “Blue living room” and discovered a series of interesting things, also useful to understand, if there was a need, and there is none, that young people do not stay combing dolls but have understood the lesson: it is their lot not to seek employment, as happened to previous generations, but to try to become entrepreneurs of themselves.
Debora, how did you start?
I studied with application but I felt that the scientific field would not be my future. While I was at the university I approached the theater, took lessons and did small tours, especially shows for children and families. I had a great time and I realized I had the right voice and right diction. I proposed to “Oltremare”, the water park, I was a speaker for four years …
Slows. What experience was it?
Beautiful, unfortunately abruptly interrupted for Covid: we also did eight shows a day. The attractions were dolphins, parrots, birds of prey: people came to get excited, I learned a lot from contact with people who wanted to get out of everyday life, to have different experiences.
I realized that my life was in those areas, among the people, dealing with animation, culture. I made the decision not to be a pharmacist. I opened a VAT number and I started doing what happened: cultural reviews, presentation of books, communication in shopping centers. Where they called me I went, I still do it now. I proposed to the “Resto del Carlino”, they entrusted me with a column of literary reviews. Public presentations are priceless moments of exchange with people and authors, I also do them in Porto Verde. You know it well, getting to know the writers in person, understanding their way of working, is exciting.
Then you invented the free library.
I didn’t invent it, there is a worldwide network of small free libraries, Little Free Library, although not very developed in Italy. Perhaps also because we read less than elsewhere. I opened one in the garden of my house, in Riccione, in a side street of Viale Ceccarini: during the lockdown it became a meeting place. I also opened one in Coriano. People bring books, give them, whoever wants to borrow them and then bring them back. It costs nothing, nothing is signed, a pact of trust is signed and culture is transmitted. A small community has been created around the bookshop, I organize reading groups, people want to share. I discovered similar experiences: going with my partner to the marvelous Portico di Romagna, in the hills, on the border with Tuscany, where there is the Acquacheta waterfall, I realized that the “Vecchio Convento” restaurant has opened a well bigger than mine …
I stop for a moment to warn the reader that this is not a carrambata agreed between me and Debora. I had no idea that she knew Portico, my place of the heart. The “Vecchio Convento”, where you eat divinely, was the home of my maternal grandparents, my mother and my sister were born there. Many years later Marisa Raggi and Gianni Cameli, she from Portico, he who worked in Milan where Marisa had gone to study, adapted the building into a magnificent restaurant-hotel, reviewed by the most authoritative guides. I had noticed the well-stocked free library promoted by the Cameli, a family for some time accustomed to international contacts, in the portico village; I wrote about it a couple of years ago with surprise and admiration. A way of welcoming, of spreading sociability and knowledge, on a very private initiative, which therefore unites the sparkling Riccione and the silent, very green Romagna Toscana. Then they say that Romagna, be it sea or mountain, is not a fairytale place!CopyAMP code.
I go back to Debora to ask her when the writing fever came.
The first book, “The movement of dreams”, I wrote for “Fandango” in four hands with Eleonora Calesini, a friend who survived the terrible earthquake in L’Aquila; it is a novel-reportage set in that context. I thought it was worth continuing after I saw that I was doing well.
Here is one of my well-known stupid questions. A few days ago Roberto Pazzi, a writer translated into twenty-six languages, told me in the broadcast, quoting the Nobel laureate Albert Camus, that if you don’t feel pain, you don’t have the drive to write novels. I can’t imagine your existential suffering.
The question is not stupid but do not think that it does not know the restlessness. The previous book, meanwhile, was born from the enormous suffering experienced by Eleonora, who saw her city destroyed and her life and her gods in grave danger. And for me, writing is liberating, letting it vent any contradiction, any anxiety. I think I have balance, I am lucky, but anxiety pervades everyone. We all have to find a way to dissolve it, anxiety sometimes helps to find the right path but in general it is not a good life partner.
The expectation of this child that my partner and I have been looking for super, we are happy, just missing “delivery”. Even now we don’t forget reading and writing: we have long started reading stories to the belly. We know that noises and sounds for those inside the belly represent something familiar. If you want a useful title in these cases, it is the book “Mother tongue, twenty-one nursery rhymes for babies”. The studies that we have specifically followed also suggest to propose songs, that’s why I’m letting the unborn child hear “Queen”, we also went to their concert in Bologna.
Debora, you grew up in Riccione, with obvious privileges, of an aesthetic and, probably, economic nature. Wasn’t it easier to live as a beautiful girl inserted in the right contexts and that’s it?
I understand what you mean, but I’ve always been atypical. I never got tanned, for one thing, as a young girl I felt the need for my own space, to hang out with people who were looking, like me, for a refuge. I have always had a social life, I went out regularly with friends, to have aperitifs or to dance, but I pursued that refuge, that idea of sharing things and passions with others. I was lucky, my city accepted me for what I wanted to be, I’m happy. I found people who love culture, without intellectual pretensions, as happens to me.
What place is Riccione?
Like other seaside towns, in my opinion more beautiful than others. Behind tourism and hospitality there is a lot of work, no one stands idle, no one sits and waits for time to pass. And the myth of transgression is a lie: in Riccione if you want to have fun, you have fun, believe me. But, as in the whole of the Romagna Riviera, there is no lack of a thousand opportunities to know, to deepen. You can live in a joyful way but also with curiosity, awareness. And in both ways together. I think it’s the best.
In conclusion, pick one of your many flaws and make it public.
Despite, or perhaps because of the fact that my father is a chef, I don’t cook, I don’t know how to cook, I don’t like cooking. Fortunately, my wonderful companion takes care of it very well. Tonight he prepares trofie with pesto. Lately, if he senses I feel like it, he makes beautiful desserts. I’m afraid that after maternity he will have to put myself in order.
I thank Debora and I wish her, also on your behalf, the best. After the August break, the weekly “Sunday of the village” starts again from today. If you like, follow us as you have done in the past. Good Sunday, see you next time.