Federica Marchesini may have been born in Italy but for the past 15 years she has called Cape Town home.
Now, the Camps Bay resident has written a book about living in the city. Called Afritalian, the book presents a hilarious look into Cape Town’s mix of Italian and local cultures, languages and the city itself – all from a European point of view.
This is Ms Marchesini’s first novel and it revolves around a fictional character who is at the airport in Cape Town on the way to Rome the start of the book.
“I have always been interested in writing and languages and have done some travel blogs in the past. This is the first book I have written but I am already getting pressured into starting the next one,” she said, adding that work on Afritalian started a few years ago.
The new book may be based in Cape Town, said Ms Marchesini, but could easily be set in another city. “I ended up here almost by accident. In the beginning it was quite difficult because I didn’t know anyone. I had just come from Germany where I was teaching Italian. Now I am loving it here.”
She said the main character in the novel describes the things she sees in an entertaining way. The Italian version of the book was launched last week but she is hoping that the English version will be available early next year. “The feedback has been amazing so far, people are really enjoying it.
“The book is almost like a guide to the city hidden in a novel, all from a European perspective. I did some research before.”
The main character, Atena Monti, a woman who feels less Italian and more cosmopolitan, starts a physical, mental and linguistic journey, from South Africa to Italy, from Italian to South African and vice versa. While she is travelling to Rome and leaving Cape Town behind, she starts observing the world as if it were a stage and she in the audience with a piece of paper and a pen. But she actually sees two worlds: the real one in Cape Town, where she lives, and the Italian one.
Ms Marchesini said she was hoping to do a book launch in Johannesburg too as there is a big Italian community there.
“I have always been interested in languages and have been involved in teaching. I can speak five languages fluently including Italian, English and German.”
The language expert has always been involved in teaching and she is currently the director at the Lingo – Passionate About Italian school.