One of my great interests is the study of my vernacular, Genzanese. Together with my brother Mirco, I have compiled a number of volumes about my home-town language. The Dictionary – the result of over twenty years’ work – collects over three thousand words and gives an explanation and examples of usage from dozens of speakers and sources. The Stornelli book is a collection of traditional improvised poetry – some of it dating back to the nineteenth century. Genzano racconta (Genzano Recounts) is a selection of fables, stories and anecdotes written in Genzanese or passed on orally by the people of the horse-shoe-shaped town. The Proverbs book is probably my favourite, and I keep going back to it to learn new expressions and refresh my own vernacular.
Genzano is just the most lovely town on earth. Cicero is said to have holidayed there in the summer, and the ruins of his villa can still be seen. Famous people across the centuries have visited it – including Goethe, Gogol and Turner – and today thousands flock each year to see that great flower marvel, the June “Infiorata”. If you have a chance, do go and visit – you won’t be disappointed.
Many years ago, my brother and I took interest in the first poet to have written in the Romanesco dialect, Giovanni Camillo Peresio. Very little was known of him, and what was known was based on fragmentary information, often second-hand. Over the years we discovered a wealth of new material on him, including a new complete manuscript of his only surviving poem, Il maggio romanesco, which had been sitting for centuries in the Harleyan archive at the British Library. This manuscript is extremely important, as it sheds light on the composition process of the poem and can be compared with an earlier version of it and the printed book. Our research culminated, in 2016, in an essay for Olschki’s prestigious international journal Studi Secenteschi.
Mirco and I are currently working on a new, updated edition of our Dictionary of Genzanese, and have just published an essay on a seventeenth-century Romanesco improvisatore called Pianella on il 996, and completed a fifth genzanese volume, Genzano sempre luccica, focusing this time on popular songs and ballads.