Oh how I wish I could be in Manchester sometimes! It would be a nice time for a pilgrimage there. Anyway, the Anthony Burgess Foundation and the Societa Dante Alighieri are exploring these days the connection between my favourite writer (Burgess, not Dante) and Italy. They will, among other things, talk about his friendship with Sophia Loren, who inspired the character of Beatrice Joanna in The Wanting Seed and also one hagiographic article in Homage to Qwert Yuiop. Burgess also lived in Italy for an extensive part of his adult life and of course married an Italian, Liana, his second wife. And also, incidentally, someone I met personally. So Anthony Burgess had a very special relationship with Italy and Italian culture.
A relationship which in my own life, especially my youth (well, in my twenties), I semi-voluntarily tried to emulate. I made many Italian friends and acquaintances at university and later and tried to learn the language. I am still struggling with the latter, but thankfully I still have Italian friends, with whom I created strong bonds. I cannot visit Italy any time soon and beside I want to know the language more, enough to get by. Until then, a pilgrimage in Manchester at the ABF would calm my longing for Italy.