The Concept of the novel
Being commissioned to write a novel is an exciting challenge. I want to thank ACQUA DI PARMA for having given me this wonderful opportunity. The idea, shared with the talented Giovanni Gastel, who first conceived it, was to convey the soul of Parma, a secretive and magnificent city, by relating it to its important history and its fundamental role in forging the Future. The Parma of the past and the Parma of today: a lively and exhilarating city, which has been capable of moving forward while bearing the weight of its outstanding Past on its shoulders. Parma, then, has two faces: what came before and the present time. Giovanni Gastel, a marvelous Artist, a poet and highly sensitive intellectual, inspired me with his visions, which capture the senses even more than the gaze, paving the way for unknown perspectives. I thought of a plot that would join the modern novel with the historical one. Two faces for the novel that describes Parma, just as the city of Parma itself is Janus-faced. I used a different linguistic style for then and for now. I constructed a narrative structure based on two tracks, and I created Characters who communicate with each other across the centuries, both accidentally and deliberately, driven and led by the magic that Parma possesses. The scenes are set in the city’s key Locations, and they have a twofold function: they help the story move forward, and they arouse in the Reader the physical and mental emotion that the Beauty of Parma, its glorious frescoes, its streets the color of antique gold, its Churches embroidered with marble and pink stonework aroused in me as well. I don’t know whether I have been successful or not. But that was my aim nonetheless. If you’ve kept reading this far, then it must be a good omen and a genuine gift for me. I wish to thank Gabriella Scarpa, a woman of culture and elegance, and the Company’s business talent, for this extraordinary opportunity, never thought of before by any brand: not to write the story of the brand, but an actual novel capable of embodying its essence. I wish to thank Giovanni Gastel, a dear friend and an Artist, for the joy of an inspiration that we shared harmoniously from the very outset. I am grateful to him for what he taught me during these very intense as well as exciting months. I wish to thank the editorial team at Electa, Virginia Ponciroli, a meticulous editor, Stefano Peccatori, the guiding light of the Publishing House, and Rossella Savio, who dealt with the proofreading. Thanks go to the team at Acqua di Parma who helped me organize my work: Elena Galasso and Camilla Piersanti. I also want to thank Luisa Radice Fossati and the Studio Gastel, for the same reasons and for their friendship as well. I am grateful to Elisabetta Ivaldi, the Professional Tour Guide who showed me round Parma with competence and passion for her work. And I wish to thank Parma’s Assessor of Culture, Laura Maria Ferraris, who opened the doors to this city’s most magnificent sites, all of which begging to be discovered. And, last but not least, my thanks to Luigi Deciani, a busy entrepreneur, but sensitive to the fascination of culture, he too enthralled by the beauty of Parma, who was willing
to dedicate some of his time to share conversations about the novel, offering me his intelligence and imagination, and his loving presence at my side. But I would also like to mention, three other people. My dear aunt, Countess Elena Galeotti Grassi, who has spent eighty fabulous years of her life filled with books, culture, and cheer. And my lovely children, Tommaso and Ginevra Boralevi, two people who fill me with pride and never cease to surprise me, showering me with their love.
I dedicate this novel to Tommaso and Ginevra, and to Aurora, soon to be my daughter- in-law.