Mir’s Girls: Dante, Marble and Carrara are a bridge of peace between Italy and Russia

CARRARA – “Unfortunately, there are more men who build walls than those who build bridges” says an old saying and never as in this historical period do these words seem more true. In recent days, the news, after the censorship of the famous Russian novelist Fëdor Michajlovič Dostoevsky at the Bicocca University in Milan, of the exclusion of the Russian Italianist Evgeny Solonovich (recognized as the great translator of Italian poetry in Russian) by the Strega Prize jury at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, only a year ago Olga Kameneva, Diana Hasanova and Oxana Alenina managed to enchant by singing about three twins of the Divine Comedy in their language, Russian, in a dedicated video: “P’r Carara and p’r cararini “. Dressed: one in white, one in green and one in red, they walked the streets of the historic center, filmed the sea and the beach of Marina, the Apuan Alps that stand out against the games of clouds in the sky, while his voice recited softly the triplets of Hell and Paradise. A video that came first in the “Carrara per Dante” contest, banned by a group of Carrara and Carrara culture lovers to remember the strong bond between the Supreme Poet and our people, on the occasion of the seven hundredth anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri. Olga, Diana and Oxana are part of the Russian cultural association Mir along with others and Marta Tongiani, a scholar and expert on Russian culture, through the Vostok cultural circle for which she is responsible, collaborates with them in the organization of Russian language courses. She is the one who tells us where these girls ‘love for Italian culture comes from and in particular for La Divina Commedia and how there is an invisible bridge built over the Russians’ love for Italian culture. The link with Carrara is also close.

When we call Marta Tongiani, she is in the company of the Mir girls: it is May 9 in the evening and they celebrate together, from typical Russian dishes, Victory Day which is the day, celebrated in Russia, of the declaration of surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945 that ended World War II. And it is also Europe Day: the day when, on May 9, 1950, Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, presented the economic cooperation plan, initiating the process that will lead to the birth of the European Union. EU.

Strange coincidence that symbolizes a relationship, the one between European and Russian peoples, very intense of historical-cultural root. Marta Tongiani explains: “I went to Russia years ago. They love our country: it is a love that comes from admiration for ancient Rome. After all, Russia has always looked to the West, “Tongiani tells us, and our thoughts are reminiscent of the same Russian flag, adopted by Peter the Great emulating the Dutch flag, or when the Tsar implemented the process of Westernization of the his country in the effort to modernize it, requiring men, among other things, to cut their traditional long beards.

“Our soldiers during World War II, despite being the enemy, were often treated,” says Tongiani, “not to mention the Russian partisans who came to fight our Resistance. For them our language is music, they know Dante who has been translated into Russian and he is studying at school, they know our sculptors. Moscow and Petersburg bear witness to the work of Italian architects and artists. In the Hermitage there is the staircase of the Triscornia family from Carrara ”, explains the manager of the Vostock club who spent a few years, during her studies, in Russia. In fact, Carrara also has artistic links with St. Petersburg: the two marble statues representing St. Peter and St. Paul, located in the Lutheran Church of St. Petersburg, are by Andrea Triscornia from Carrara (1834-38).

“So much so,” continued Tongiani’s speech, “that in 2017 there was an exhibition of works from the St. Petersburg Hermitage,” Canova said. Sculpture Paths in Florence and Rome “at the Palazzo Cucchiari. Carrara has a connection with Russia through the marble – he goes on to explain – Peter the Great brought to his country sculptures from Carrara that are now preserved and exhibited in the Hermitage. Italy is in the heart of Russia, so today’s situation is very painful – says the Russian professor who continues to talk about what is happening now – Dostoevsky’s censorship was a blow to the heart. “Dante’s schooling.” Tongians have changed, they are encouraged by a sense of peace. That video was a testament to his love for Carrara. They love this city and see it more beautiful than us who live its beauty taking it for granted. Finally Marta Tongiani has to hang up: the party starts and the girls demand it. And then, absolutely by chance, we discover the meaning of the word mir: which in Russian translates to “world”, but also to “peace”.

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