Students, professors, pensioners, clerks and housewives. These are the authors of the city stories we received from China for the 2021 program. A different way to get to know this incredible country rich in cultures, traditions and very different ways of speaking.
We are very proud to have been chosen for the second year by the CPAFFC - Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries to present stories from Chinese cities.
We got excitedand because in some stories we found ourselves as in a game of parallel worlds that meet. After all, people's emotions are the same in every latitude.
Like those concerning the Chongqing dialect.
There are two stories written by Ren Wei (or Vivian according to the Western name she has chosen), from the linguistics department of Bl Academy.
We found ourselves thinking about the Neapolitan ... we read the text and imagined that it spoke of the Neapolitan lifestyle and its musicality.
But each of us can think in our own language, and I am reminded of the poetry of my grandmother's Venetian accent or the Sicilian accent of my other grandmother.
Zu Ruifu also tells us about this great city/state of over 30 million inhabitants that has its territory squeezed between mountains and rivers and has rather steep climbing roads. To help people bring the goods there was the famous 'army of bang bang', porters who with their bamboo cane baskets were able to bring up everything.
Even today you can meet some of them at work.
From Whuan we have received two stories that give a different light to this city, which in recent years has become the emblem of the deep world crisis that we are still going through.
The first is by Pan Qian and concerns the large bridge over the Yellow River, the first in China built to unite the north and south of the country and which immediately became one of the most photographed places in the whole of China. And so we were able to remember Mao's swim that every Chinese knows about together with the related poem written by the president.
The second concerns traditional embroidery that has among its recurring figures there is that of the phoenix, the famous bird that is always reborn from its ashes. We hope that this will happen again this time and that Whuan will shine again and be known for its dynamism.
We then learned about Inner Mongolia and the city of Hohhot, the centre of the Chinese dairy industry, thanks to Yang Caixia and Yang Lixia who told us about the famous Tea and Milk Houses and , sorts of our cafes where the famous milk tea is consumed.
Reading their story we entered into the daily habits of the city and we were fascinated.
Maybe the tea is what Liu Wenjing told us about and that comes from his city of Guizhou where the famous Duyun Maojian tea is produced in the high mountains, one of the top ten in China.
Liu Wenjing told us about the mountains and the fog of his territory that give a particular scent to this tea. Next time we promise to pay more attention to the place of production of tea.
After all, we do it for our products that we use in the kitchen and we will have to start doing it also for those that come to us from other countries.
We then received three stories that somehow connect Italy and China and that touched us in the heart and in the smile. The first was written by an Italian, Massimo Giovanni Lemma who works at Changchun hospital.
Changchun is the most Japanese city in China with a cuisine that also has strong Korean influences. In fact, it is located on the border with Korea and was the capital of the Puppet State of Manchuria during the Japanese occupation of China in the early twentieth century. A cold but artistically warm city with a festival of ice sculptures that competes with that of Harbin for beauty.
Zhang Zihan also reminded us of the Japanese history of the Nanjing-Nanjing massacre, but his story told us above all of the twinning between Florence and Nanjing. Once again, reading the stories through the eyes of a Chinese, we agreed that cooperation between countries and towns works best when you go down to the details and find intriguing themes of meeting.
The third story that also concerns Italy comes to us from Xi'an and Zhang Wen that the Xi'an Daily newspaper tells us. Zhang Wen has chosen to tell the story of an Italian pizza maker who opened a small gourmet pizzeria in Xi'an and in his story he explains how Italian pizza is profoundly different from American pizza.
It is he himself who tells us Italians, and the world of our international readers, that behind the art of Italian pizza there is culture while behind the American one there is speculation.
And luckily it's a Chinese who says it!
We will have to treasure it in our communication and remember that the art of Neapolitan pizza makers is included in the list of intangible heritage of UNESCO.
Thank you Zhang Wen!
Sun Jingyu's last story about his city of Minning Town and the policies that China has implemented to lift inland areas out of poverty and prevent the depopulation of entire regions deserves a special mention.
Apart from understanding of how China has implemented medium-long term policies to develop inland areas,in addition to knowing directly the effects of these policies on people there is another aspect that has made this story so familiar to us.
Practically the history of Minning Town has become the emblem of China thanks to a TV series that has taken people away from Chinese television. Mari and Monti is the name of the series and now we can watch it on Youtube.
The leaders of Minning Town suddenly became famous and the city is now so well known that today it is one of the centres of Chinese agritourism - what they call ‘rural tourism’ and which is the same that we experience in our areas.
These Chinese stories join those that we have already collected in our Discover China column on our portal and starting from them we are sure that we will be able to create twinning and exchanges with between our towns.
Allow us to thank all the authors who have dedicated their precious time to us, the CPAFFC and the OBOR Italy Institute, with its president Michele de Gasperis, who have helped us in the discovery of this great country and in creating opportunities for synergy and collaboration between us and China.