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Italiana by Giuseppe Catozzella | Italian Book Club of the Dante Alighieri Society of BC



Italiana by Giuseppe Catozzella | Italian Book Club of the Dante Alighieri Society of BC

Presented by the Dante Alighieri Society of BC, with the support of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Toronto.

The next meeting of the Italian Book Club will take place on Tuesday, June 15 at 8:30PM EST / 5:30PM PST.

The group will discuss the novel Italiana by Giuseppe Catozzella (Modadori, 2021). Benedetta Diamanti will coordinate.

Please note that the discussion will be in Italian. An intermediate to advanced level of Italian is recommended.

To register, please email

The Italian Book Club meets ONLINE on ZOOM once a month.

Meet other bibliophiles, share ideas and deepen your understanding of Italian literature, history and culture.

The Italian Book Club is FREE and open to all those in Canada interested in friendly and thought-provoking discussions of Italian books: fiction, non-fiction, classics, prize-winners, etc.

If you are new to the Italian Book Club and wish to join the meetings, please email to register and receive the MEETING LINK.

Schedule and more info:


Ciccilla is born into a very poor family in the heartlands of Calabria. At the age of 12, she is forced to leave the family home where poverty rules – her mother sews in the dark to save candles, Ciccilla has to give up the small bed she already shares with one of her brothers, for her older sister, Teresa. Temperamental and domineering Teresa returns to live with her parents following the violent death of the acquaintances who had adopted her, providing her with a sort of aristocratic education.

Ciccilla is taken in by an aunt – a brusque and dismissive woman, but kind – who lives in a cabin outside of town. This is how Ciccilla spends her youth, in the woods. She learns the language of freedom and the laws of nature, gets to know the mountains, learns to tell the difference between right and wrong, and becomes a young woman who is not afraid to fight, no matter whether it’s her feelings at stake or the far broader prospect of a different society.

Italiana is based on a real person, Maria Oliviero, and, using official papers and historical documents, it retells her story, an unforgettable heroine’s struggle for freedom and the story of the betrayal that gave rise to the Italian nation. Catozzella reconstructs Ciccilla’s life through a mixture of real historical documents and myths, developing a breathtaking, emotional, well-paced plot: her poor childhood, her passionate and painful love for the rebel Piero, her fiercely hostile relationship with Teresa, her struggle for freedom as a woman and as part of the exploited class.

An unforgettable conclusion reveals the end of Ciccilla’s life, and almost 160 years later, her story becomes the universal story of anyone who fought against centuries of oppression, at a time when personal freedom did not yet exist and it was dangerous even to dream of breaking free from being enslaved to ‘gentlemen’. Ciccilla is young, like so many heroes who make history, even the history of a country constantly on the verge of being born, of a nation eternally on the threshold of its dawn.

Italiana combines family with historical drama, centred around the memorable figure of Ciccilla, and shows us, through the filter of difficult and rebellious femininity, what can be achieved with love for a new humanity, and for freedom.


Giuseppe Catozzella's novel, Non dirmi che hai paura (Feltrinelli, 2014), a long seller in Italy, won the Premio Strega Giovani and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, soon to become an international movie production. Following the publication of the book, he was appointed by the UN Refugee Agency as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Previously he published Espianti (Transeuropa, 2008) Alveare (Rizzoli, 2011 and Feltrinelli, 2014) from which the TV movie, L’assalto (Rai Fiction) was created. Also published by Feltrinelli: Il grande futuro (2016) and E tu splendi (2018). He taught Italian literature at the University of Miami and Seton Hall University in New York. He’s a war reporter for the Italian news magazine L’Espresso. He lives between Milan and Barcelona.


Date: Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Time: At 8:30 pm

Organized by : Dante Alighieri Society of British Columbia

In collaboration with : Istituto Italiano di Cultura Toronto

Entrance : Free


Online via Zoom