Interview to Doctor Rita Stefanelli

1) How much historical memory affects or affected our present and our behaviors? We owe what we are to our ancestors, because they passed it on us. We are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, like Cicero used to say. The importance of historical memory is right here, in passing on what is not written.

2) What do ancient monuments and museums tell us? What do they teach us about history and how much do they give us a shape? Museums talk us about the way of living of a predetermined historical period and they tell us about the past. Every object inside museums talk us about a precise period.

3) Musically, what historical identity is traceable to Salento? Now “la pizzica” is trendy, but fifty years ago Salento was not only pizzica: there was no radio, no television, you could hear work chants, protest chants, love chants and religious ones. Into my village and into near ones they sang a religious chant of San Lazareno until Domenica delle Palme.

4) How much Salento tradition affects the present day: sweets, feasts and games? Food has been affected a lot, despite the tendency to bastardize it with customs of other countries. The same we can say about music and bands.

5) The technological era has permitted that the new generation isn’t curious to know the past of our ancestors. How much family and school influence this? During the Sixties we discarded objects, traditions, and our grandparents weren’t good enough to avoid it. Now we are realizing about the errors we committed and we are trying to recover.

6) How much education of the past influenced that of today? Now parents don’t perform the role of parents, but that of friends. They never say no.

7) What is the common ground between the past and modern life? The common ground is existential needs, we are all the same in regard to this. What changes is the way in which we express these.

8) What is the difference between the education received in the past and that which we give today? We forgot respect, we are always brought to point out and judge others, never ourselves. My father used to tell me to greet even rocks, because they are also children of God. And then we have lost the ethical sense, no one ask themselves if what they do is right.

9) Beginning from today’s education, how the educational future could be prospected or outlined? The unity of the educational project lacks. There should be a synergy, a common purpose.

10) With what customs we find the historical past? The feasts. In my village we carry out the snow Madonna’s procession and there are some lit up torches that mean faith.

11) The Salento’s folklore: today in which context could be put the “cunti Salentini” and the “culacchi”? Isn’t it a pity to lose this memory? Into my home there was a big chimney and I sat on my little chair inside the chimney. My father used to tell me a lot of tales, among which one that told that the King used to order to throw in the sea people of 50 years of age because they were elderly. This was the tale of Brizio, which moral was that all the gold of the world isn’t worth the water that falls on the right moment.

12) What do you think of the importance of dialect today as a valorization of the language? You recover the dialect by speaking it. There are some dialectal terms, some expressions that are not translatable. The dialect derives from Latin and Greek.

13) Why theater didn’t develop in Lecce and we find it only in the ‘900? Representations before ‘900 were sacred ones. There was no mention of profane theater, which, referring to Latin theater, arrives only in ‘900.