Dan Brown in Pietrasanta

Going to a Literature Festival! A sneaky snap by Neil.

Apparently, Dan Brown wrote his first novel at the age of 5 - dictated to his mother and with a print run of  one.  He still has it and was waving it in front of the crowd last night.  And he hasn't lost his ability to pick a good title either - this juvenile effort was called The Giraffe, The Pig and The Pants on Fire!

I got to the Piazza an hour early, but it was already crowded and people were beginning to stake out positions on the duomo steps too.

This is what it looked like by the time Dan Brown arrived.

It made sense to own a flat overlooking the Piazza!

Everyone and their dog was there.

And some wonderful Italian shoes - most of them going too fast to get a pic.

Some just weren't interested!

The booksellers were doing a good trade.

I found I could hear quite well standing at the back of the crowd - a good sound system and the wonderful acoustics of the Piazza
Dan Brown on stage by telefoto!
fortunately the big screen made it possible to see as well.

Dan talked a lot about his family and what made him a writer.  His mother was a church organist and his father a maths teacher.  Their cars on the driveway had number plates that read 'Kyrie' and 'Metric'.  He said he was confused about religion from birth, but there must have been something in the genes, both creative and rebellious, because his sister is a painter and his brother a musician who composed a mass to Charles Darwin. The other factor he suspects was relevant to his choice of future career was the fact that they had no television in the house, just loads of books.

He made a lot of jokes about being seen as a heretic because of his novels, but the Italian crowd weren't laughing.  I sensed a certain uneasiness - challenging the Catholic church is still a big thing in Italy, though there are a lot of people who would like to do it.

His talk didn't cover a great deal of ground - it was being translated, paragraph by paragraph, which made for slow progress - we sloped off for a pizza towards the end and came back to listen to an Italian cartoonist and satirist, Vauro Senesi, concerned about the level of unemployment, particularly among young people in Italy. By 10.30 it was too dark to take photographs.  Felt very frustrated that my Italian still isn't good enough to follow this kind of complex argument.  Probably much more relevant and interesting than Dan Brown!

No event in the Piazza is ever complete without Mortela - the Senegalese street seller!  There are lots of them, but he's the most colourful. Their stories are fascinating.  How they stay alive I don't know.  Apparently no-one's buying much at the moment.  The tourists haven't started to arrive yet and Pietrasanta residents are already stocked up on hats, friendship bracelets and tissues.


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