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Bolivia – Italian Embassy in La Paz celebrates the 16th Italian Language Week

The presentation of Gianni Morelli’s book entitled ‘Amori, altipiani e macchine parlanti’ (‘Love stories, the Highlands and Talking Machines’) in La Paz will mark the celebrations of the 16th Italian Language Week in the world in Bolivia. The event, promoted by the Italian Embassy in La Paz, Publishing House 3600, the La Paz Committee of the Dante Alighieri Society, in partnership with the Espacio Simon I. Patiño, will take place on 14 October at 7:30 p.m. at the Auditorium of the Espacio Simon I. Patiño. The book, the Italian Embassy’s website writes, tells the story of Viani, a young man from Italy who migrated to New York at the beginning of the 20th century. Viani went searching for America and found a dream. The story unfolds over a nine-year period, during which he went from Manhattan all the way to the Peruvian Highlands passing through Buenos Aires, Patagonia and Bolivia. Readers follow him in his wanderings across two continents, from the basements in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, to the cargo ships sailing between North and South America, to ballrooms and breath-taking hikes on the Andes, turn-of-the-century South American theatres and the beaches of Mar del Plata, to Lake Titicaca and the historical square of Cuzco. A whirlwind of aristocratic palaces, haciendas, donkey caravan tracks, stylish cafes, adobe villages, broad plains and tin mines…

At first unwitting, Viani soon realized that his was a very personal journey in search of the true meaning of life, guided by the love for three women and his passion for Enrico Caruso, whose presence is indirect and allusive but nonetheless continuous and magnetic. Fate steers his life through unlikely instruments such as the fabulous gramophones of the VictorTalking Machine Company, Italian operas, forlorn places at the end of the world and love affairs. Through most of the story, Viani’s adventures overlap with the South American saga of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in the two robbers’ wanderings with Etta Place to evade the pursuit of the Pinkerton Police, who are close on their trail, hoping to make a new start.

The story features several minor characters, occasional but decisive in unfolding the story, whom the author uses as artifices to develop intriguing subplots: masterful portrayals and the pieces of a throbbing puzzle which also reveals a surprisingly profound knowledge of the history and geography of the places that Viani crossed and of the cultures he encountered. No detail is left unheeded – from the dusty streets of the Incas’ ancient capital city to a ball gown, from caravan routes (depicted down to the tiniest detail of a curve and a horizon line), to the music, and to the hues of the atmosphere that change with the time of day, to the legends of the local gods. Morelli made an in-depth investigation into Viani’s life, making several journeys to the places in which he lived. 

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