Florence Last Saturday, 18 November 2023, in the beautiful Sala d’Arme of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, the celebrations took place for the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of theCultural association of Sardinians in Tuscany (Acsit), the Sardinian club of Florence. Numerous authorities were present, to highlight and recognize the social and cultural importance of the activity of one of the most historic Sardinian clubs in all of Italy. It was the year 1982 when the first assembly was held for the establishment of what then, after a short time, became the first Sardinian club in Tuscany.
In his introductory speech at the ceremony Angelino Mereu of Orani, current president, quoting his friend Gianni Conti (absent for health reasons), underlined that «Florence is unique for the many treasures it contains in its buildings which in turn make the city an open-air museum» and highlighted the filial relationship that Sardinian emigrants have interwoven with the city of Florence, “the second mother” because, as Angelino adds, the “first” always remains Sardinia.
In the life of the club not everything has been rosy, the character of its members has been put to the test by many events to which they have always responded with the honesty and stubbornness that distinguishes our character. The desire to make our Sardinia known, culturally valid and with long traditions has always animated us, a witness that every president and every board of directors has passed on to the next president. But being here today, in perhaps the most famous “Palazzo” in the world, adds Angelino, in the presence of our administrators, this fact alone says a lot about how far we have come and what results have been achieved, in terms of cultural and social promotion. and tourism in Sardinia.
To fully recount these forty years, an “important” job of filing and cataloging the mass of archive documents was necessary in order to be able to give the members and many friends a volume that contains, in a brief summary, the history of our club. Introducing the evening, Angelino Mereu briefly reviewed the club’s activity and the significant cultural promotion action in Florentine society.
Born as a response to rampant prejudice against Sardinians, seen as brutal bandits and kidnappers, in forty years of activity has created events with a strong cultural impact. In collaboration with the most important Florentine museums, many exhibitions have been organised, hundreds of book presentations on Sardinia, film screenings, theatrical performances, Sardinian wine and food tastings have been held. A widespread and tireless activity, carried out by a group of volunteers who have often faced and face a thousand economic and bureaucratic difficulties to promote the values and culture of their land.
Among the authorities present were the councillors Sara Funaro And Giovanni Bettarini. Bettarini, councilor for budget, commerce and productive activities, brought the mayor’s greetings Dario Nardella; he recalled how during the preparatory meeting with the president Angelino Mereu and the coordinator Elio Turisthe idea of naming a street in Florence after the first female Nobel Prize winner in literature was launched: Grazia Deledda, and how this proposal found favor with the administration. Jokingly, he complained about the lack of Sardinian restaurants in Florence. The vice-president and councilor for agriculture spoke for the Tuscany Region Stefania Saccardi always close to the Association, both on festive occasions and in important cultural events since she was councilor of the Municipality of Florence and deputy mayor.
The vice president, bringing the president’s greetings Eugenio Giani, underlined the personal bond that has linked the two Regions for decades, and how the countryside abandoned by the Tuscans, with the end of sharecropping, was brought back to its current level of landscape, profitability and sustainability by the Sardinian emigrant shepherds. The result of this action has unknowingly made it possible to safeguard the biodiversity of the Tuscan countryside. Even recently, before Covid, cultivation in the fields had a slowdown and some defections but since the pandemic it has started to be interesting again for the new generations with increasingly pressing requests for financing from young companies already in operation and from young who intend to start a new chapter in life by dedicating themselves to agriculture or livestock.
Furthermore, Saccardi was keen to anticipate that the Tuscany region and the Autonomous region of Sardinia, under the impetus of the Sardinian circles of the Center and South, they are defining an agreement (a meeting to this effect had taken place in the morning with the officials of the two Regions and the coordinator of the Turis project) which will also be extended to the other interested regions (Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche), for the creation of a multimedia space, with immersive reality to narrate the history of Sardinian emigration and pastoralism in central Italy. The location was identified in one of the buildings within a 360 hectare estate which is part of an “asset seized from the mafia”, where the project will see its realization in a vast room, as a witness and promotion of “Legality”.
The private secretary of the Department of Labor and Training of the Sardinia Region, Antonello Picciaccompanied by the head of the Emigration office Marco Sechibrought the councilor’s greetings Ada Lai and the President of the Region Christian Solinas and confirmed the bonds of friendship that bind the two Regions and, taking the assistance offered by councilor Bettarini, recalled that the occasion of the naming of a street in Grazia Deledda could be accompanied by one or more moments of creation of ” Deleddian Dinners”, rediscovering the recipes preserved between the lines of Deleddian novels.
The president of Federation of Sardinian associations in Italy (Phases) Bastianino Mossa, speaking in the splendid setting of the Sala d’Arme, surrounded by the multiple and simultaneous photos that remembered the forty years of the club, recalls how Fasi is made up of over seventy associations, and which today has almost thirty thousand members. Emigration was not the same for the various territories, but had different connotations and different paths. Today, compared to before, the associations have gone beyond the pure welfare character, which has gradually been replaced by the social and cultural aspect. A cultural aspect that is well defined in the reality of the Florence club.
To the former presidents present in the room, Lorenzo Murgia, Gerolamo Bandu, Erminio Zara, Elio Turis, Fiorella Maisto the symbolic plaques recognizing their work went up, testifying to what they have done to preserve and hand over to the new generations an association whose founding members are Gianni Conti, Luigi Berlinguer, Pierluigi Onorato, Giorgio Burdese, Mario Onida, Gavino Boito name just a few of the most important names.
The current board, which is made up of ten women, then also presented the plaque to Angelino Mereu, in recognition of the work done in these last years of presidency. The evening then ended with the concert created in collaboration with the Maria Carta Foundation.
Led by Giacomo Serreli And Leonardo Marras the Fantafolk duo performed (Vanni Masala And Andrea Pisu) and the singer Maria Giovanna Cherchi. A moment of great emotion in the room when, before Cherchi sang the anthem of the Sardinia region, President Mereu recalled how in that very building, in the Salone dei Cinquecento, at the beginning of the twentieth century a Sardinian polyphonic choir sang for the first time this ancient melody in Florentine land. And so in a crescendo of emotions, until the culmination of the collective song of “No potho reposare”, which the Sardinians who emigrated despite the kilometers and years, remember perfectly.