In 2010, Alex Pietrogiacomi founded his blog: ‘Il Bicchiere Di_verso’ to write about food and wine, slow smoking, male elegance and culture. In this in-depth interview, we get to know his most recent projects, which allow us to jump into the past to discover different aspects of Gabriele d’Annunzio, thanks to a ‘restored’ work by Marcel Boulenger.
The book by Marcel Boulenger has long been seen as the best biography about the military career of Gabriele d’Annunzio. What were the challenges and how do you feel about giving new glory to such an important work?
This book has given me many moments of reflection on a cultural, historical, social and literary level. A forgotten piece of writing showing a new point of view about Fiume, d’Annunzio’s life and the air he breathed in such a context where he could unite his warrior spirit, his search for beauty, thought and action. Most of all human beings who were different in many aspects and found themselves in a sort of new Costantinopolis. You can detect feelings of Love and Courage which are long gone now, deaths that would do good to present men and women. Besides, you can read about a very intimate and unknown d'Annunzio and its relations with his Arditi and the people surrounding him, a d'Annunzio who – in the words of Giordano Bruno Guerri in his introduction – has never been analysed this way. Therefore, what can I add? The expectations were really high and they still are, I feel emotional at each presentation because I understand that even if this work is finished, each event highlights something new, a new path leading us towards emotional discoveries, not only because of the pages we have read.
à Approaching d’Annunzio is a multifaceted and seductive work for any writer/reader who is able to understand his literary and political stature. What were the steps you took to study such an important literary author?
I started at school (which usually follows a very limited path, considering his importance) and went on following an ideal of Beauty which incorporates a complete vision of the human being and his potential. Most of the times, people have a derogatory or deificated vision of d'Annunzio, losing sight of the man, the poet, the soldier treating him like a dummy who could be dressed according to someone else’s taste. I don’t think I can really talk about steps, but more about encounters... following Boulenger’s narrative path, during my professional and personal life I have ‘met’ d'Annunzio, as if he were a friend, with his up and downsides. As a friend, I loved him, joked about him and supported him, up until today.
In the introduction you talk about the finding of photographic material at the Società Studi Fiumani in Rome. Can you tell us something more about the choice of pictures to be published and if possible about the discovers carried out during the research?
First of all, I would like to say that anyone who is interested in d’Annunzio’s story, should visit the Società, as it is an incredible experience. When I reached the place I admired remarkable evidence smiling, because you can relive a very important historical and cultural moment there. All images, taken from the countless folders, were chosen on an aesthetic basis, decontextualised from certain points of view (and I haven’t included captions for this reason) and chosen on an emotional level (having the book ‘fresh’ in mind); to give a visual geography of faces, places, feelings which could be inserted in the reading as if it were a text, without interrupting the reader.
I know that ‘Chez d’Annunzio’ could be a mere starting point for a research work you would like to carry out about Boulenger’s works. May I ask you if you are already working on them?
Chez d’Annunzio is already a second step to discover Boulenger, as it comes after Apologia del duello, which I curated last year and which allowed me to know him better. His production is vast and we are already working on the third book, though we probably won’t stop there.
Talking about future projects, could you tell us something more about them, a part from your work as a journalist.
I am working on a book on Slow Smoking for Armillaria Edizioni, on another book and the new concept on pleasure and lux (based on time, space and silence) for Odoya and I am also working on a very important research work on a topic linked to the female work and a specific ideological area. A project I care about a lot both on an educational level and for its very delicate topics, an idea that was born in 2012 and is now well launched.