“I was born on the seas of tuna / where the Ionian sea shows its sweetness / and its terrible motion in winter. And then the face of the fishermen / has the shape of the wind / and between sea and land there is a single space “. Thus we begin our interview with Stefano Minerva, the thirty-three-year-old mayor of Gallipoli who enchanted his fellow citizens with his poetry.
These are the verses of Vittore Fiore, a poet, writer and journalist from Gallipoli who ranks among the protagonists of Italian culture. In his municipal office, Mayor Minerva affixed the words of Fiore, and today together with him we will talk about poetry.
Stefano Minerva, you are known as the “Poet, Mayor of Gallipoli”. What is poetry to you and what is your inspiration?
Defining it as a passion would be an understatement. I love poetry and all the facets in which it is able to decline. There is poetry in everything that surrounds us: the flight of a seagull, the sunset, the smell of sauce in the streets of the historic center cooked by old women. It’s poetry. It is poetry that surrounds us. Whoever manages to put this into verse makes a gift to the world. Poetry that becomes poetry. I try, humbly. I leave the great poetry to others but I feel in me the need to express what I feel. I do it when I sense that I can’t help writing. So I take pen and paper and the rest comes by itself.
“Between the myrtle and the flag” is the title of one of his poetic collections published by Hesperides. What are the main themes of the book? In that collection there is a lot about me, all the things that belong to me or with which I have a particular relationship. Like “My beard” or the inscription for the city I love most, my Gallipoli. In those poems I have written, clearly, part of my life.
If we say “You don’t know the South, the houses of lime from which we went out in the sun like numbers with the face of a nut”, what do these verses bring to your mind mind?
Well, Bodini reflects in his verses a disarming reality that fascinates me as few others do. I cannot therefore, quoting Bodini, not mention Vittore Fiore, or rather his fellow citizen Fiore. His verses are also reported in a mural dedicated to poetry, at the entrance to the city and also here, in my municipal office. “I was born on the seas of tuna where the Ionian shows its sweetness”, is poetry.
Speaking of Gallipoli, your city, what do you desire most of all for it?
There is no doubt: continuous improvement. Gallipoli is beautiful, but I don’t say it, the name says it. The term Gallipoli derives from Kale polis, the beautiful city. This means that the city has always been recognized as a flagship of the Mediterranean. My goal is just that: make it shine more and more every day.
You became mayor when you were very young. And Gallipoli is not an easy task. Where does your energy come from?
I have always done politics – says Stefano Minerva – from a very young age. Like poetry, politics is a passion, something you feel inside. When you have this inner fire you cannot ignore it. I grew up in Gallipoli and here I spent my life: seeing that blue sea and experiencing the warmth of citizens gives me incredible strength.
Recently you were appointed as the Representative of the Union of Italian Provinces in the Standing Committee for the Promotion of Tourism in Italy. How do you imagine Gallipoli tourism for the years to come?
Tourism is one of the pillars of the local economy. Public / private interaction is therefore necessary for continuous development. Tourism in Gallipoli has undergone changes: when the media turned to Gallipoli as “without young people”, cultural tourism and families immediately raised the indices. Everything is about investing in appropriate strategies and having clear programming in the medium / long term. I hope that today, tomorrow, in ten years, and forever, Gallipoli will always be a very coveted destination.