Simone Caffaz's Luna Caput Mundi. Put together Michelangelo, Canova, Berlusconi and Gigi Buffon...

Luna Caput Mundi by Simone Caffaz. Review of the book published by Società Editrice Apuana.

... and write a book about it. Well, there are those who have managed to find a logical thread that unites these characters, and also to make a literary work out of it all: the author of such an exciting work answers to the name of Simone Caffaz, a journalist from Carrara born in 1974, with the aggravating circumstance (because to write such a book, it is indeed an aggravating circumstance) of being the president of theAcademy of Fine Arts in Carrara. A past as an opposition (or center-right: in Carrara, “opposition” and “center-right” are synonymous) city councilor, a present as director of a local television station (TTNews 24, heir to the historic Tele Toscana Nord), and many also remember him for having run for mayor of Carrara in the 2007 elections (he lost to the current first citizen Zubbani), at the head of a coalition supported by Forza Italia, Alleanza Nazionale, UDC, Lega Nord, and three civic lists.

But let’s leave political issues aside and focus on the latest literary effort spawned from the very reckless pen of Simone Caffaz, as well as my first Caffazian endeavor ever (and I still wonder if it might not have been a better idea to employ my free time in any other more engaging activity such as, I don’t know, watching hamster races on YouTube): the title, original and above all never abused, is Luna Caput Mundi, where Luna means the ancient Roman city of Luni (“Luna” was precisely the name by which it was founded). The book came out in December and is published by Società Editrice Apuana. But what is it about? Very simple: about a whole series of characters who had something to do, over a period of time ranging from antiquity to Giorgio Panariello, with the territory of Luna, understood by Caffaz (at least reading which characters appear in the book) as the strip of land that runs, more or less, from Santo Stefano Magra to Forte dei Marmi.

Here, then, the book "aims to bring to light the container of memories of the land corresponding to the ancient colony of Luna (later Luni) and the relevance of the events that emerge from it for our civilization,“ except to note, unfortunately, that ”Luna has never been the capital of anything" (but how, wasn’t it even Caput Mundi?) but “if it hadn’t been there, the world wouldn’t be the same today” (ah, there!). And so “we will relive fifty stories, whether important or only seemingly secondary, united by the fact that they have profoundly affected the affairs of Italy and beyond” (I would have some doubts about Chicco Evani ’s “profound incision” on the affairs of Italy and beyond, though with all possible respect, but so be it).

Simone Caffaz, Luna Caput Mundi

Beware though, now comes the best part: the book is also an initiatory journey! Yes, because “the backgrounds of the lives and work of the greatest artists and men of letters are revealed”... but what will these secrets be that Caffaz, descended for us from the lofty heights of Parnassus, has decided to bring out from the mists that shrouded them? “The moment when Dante Alighieri in exile decided to write the Divine Comedy” (a backstory that no one until now had ever gotten to know!), "the place where Michelangelo Buonarroti stocked up on marbles“ (who knows from the quarries of what obscure sites the marbles from which Michelangelo obtained his masterpieces must have been extracted), and, unbelievable but true, the way in which ”Antonio Canova managed to be an extraordinary master at a distance, in the sense that he never knew many of his pupils." Now that’s a real back story: Canova inventede-learning and no one had ever told us about it until now!

So in short, “while Luni had a profound impact on the history of our country and Western civilization” (and Western civilization is still wondering how it would have done without Corrado Orrico), “on the other hand, history had not until now accorded Luni the tribute he deserves,” but don’t panic: Simone Caffaz took care of that!

There was one question that had been nagging at me since reading the book’s table of contents: namely, what could be the connection between Berlusconi and the ancient lands of Luni. So I decide to absent-mindedly read almost the entire book, occasionally reminding myself to point out interesting details, such as sentences that seem to be copied verbatim from Wikipedia (for example, on David Herbert Lawrence:"prophet and mystic of sex almost half a century ahead of the flower children") to come to discover that there are as many as two connections between Arcore and Luni, namely Berlusconi’s interest, in unsuspected times, in the aforementioned Tele Toscana Nord, and above all what we might call a calamity, namely the militancy, in the ranks of Berlusconi’s parties, of Lunigianians such as Sandro Bondi and Denis Verdini, both natives of Fivizzano (but the Fivizzanesi are keen to point out that they apologize and that it is not their fault).

Anyway, the cantor of the Lunensi people, not satisfied with having donated to posterity a work with such astonishing revelations (phrases that seem to be copied from Wikipedia aside, ça va sans dire), thought it well to present it in grand style in the reception hall of the Municipality of Carrara, all with the side dish of the most blatant, embarrassing, perfidious, and tamarra of Americanities: the declaration in public to one’s own beauty. How can we fail to mention in this regard the piece of high journalism by Alessandra Vivoli who, on the day after, in the pages of the Tirreno newspaper talked about the event, so much so that the book became a side dish to the declaration of love and not vice versa? In this regard, however, it is only right to break a lance in favor of Alessandra Vivoli: given the contents of the book, it is perhaps ungenerous to criticize her for speaking almost solely about the declaration. Alessandra Vivoli, whom I also publicly thank for having given us, in her article, a memorable interview with her fiancée (“it took six months of red roses to make me capitulate”: heroic and indomitable Caffaz!), but above all the opinion of their respective parents about the couple! Carrara readers of the Tirreno will surely have spent sleepless nights, gripped by the doubt that the union might be frowned upon by their families.

But the Tirreno is not only a romance magazine, but also literary criticism, and the not-so-grateful task of writing a piece on Luna Caput Mundi fell to David Chiappuella, in such a mission my companion-in-arms. However, Chiappuella in his article that also appeared in the Tirreno on Christmas Eve (evidently during the year the Tirreno’s readers behaved very badly indeed), instead of asking himself, as he did and continues to do by yours truly, to what practical use it is best to put the volume (the indecision is whether to use it to give a gift to a friend from whom we have been wronged and with whom we need to get even, or to recommend it as a blunt object for all the wives who have husbands who come home drunk at night), or at best whether the Apuan Publishing Company would not have done better to use its precious pulp to promote some young local author who had interesting stories to tell, he was able to comment on the book noting the glaring and unjustified absence of several characters, from Montesquieu to Maurizia Cacciatori. He concluded his piece with a question, “when will there be a second volume dealing with these aspects as well?”...thank you, dear David, but I would say we have already given!

Luna Caput Mundi
by Simone Caffaz
Apuan Publishing Society, 2013
12 €

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