Katie Webb is the most passionate person I have ever met. She deeply loves culture, books and old Italian traditions. Katie is British, she grew up in Wormsley, Herefordshire and then she moved to London for university and then work. She has a typical English elegance and delicacy. The first time we met was in London few years ago at the premiere of a movie and then we went to few cultural events together such as the Festival of the Italian Literature in London.
Katie -From London to Loreto Aprutino
Since August Katie has been living in Loreto Aprutino, a little town in the Abruzzo Region of central Italy. It is a big change moving from a cosmopolitan city such as London to a traditional and old Italian town. “I passed from growing up in the countryside, in the middle of nowhere, without any neighbours to living in a massive city, London. Living in Loreto Aprutino is a kind of reality that I have not experienced at all. It is that kind of town where everyone knows everyone, I suppose this has good and bad sides. I am in the historical centre, very beautiful and the buildings are so fascinating. This town is also famous for olive oil.” Katie has just bought a house in Loreto Aprutino and she is thinking of making it a place of cultural encounter for writers, artists, family, friends, visitors.
Katie and the Federation of Italian Writers
Her love for Italian culture started with her job as international co-director for the Federation of Italian Writers (FUIS). The Federation helps Italian writers promote their works, with translation and in protecting their copyright in order to earn a living. The idea of the Union is to create solidarity between writers and to make their works more widely known in Italy and abroad. There are a few Italian writers living in London such as Simonetta Agnello Hornby and Marco Mancassola. Currently Katie is working on a project with organisations of authors in Latin America. Initially, the job was based in London; now she is participating in projects all over the world. Katie’s choice of moving to Italy was influenced by her work. She was in contact with Italian artists and she started to be interested in learning about Italian culture.
The meeting with Massimiliano
“Thanks to one of my projects I met Massimiliano Di Carlo (an Italian musician and researcher of the oral tradition in Italy) and learned about his association Alberi di Maggio. He studies the oral culture here in Italy and he is passing on this part of the Italian cultural heritage.” Katie was interested in this work and she wanted to put it into action, participating in activities and festivals. Through the events she learned about the oral tradition in this part of Italy: Marche and Abruzzo. At the beginning she kept going back to Italy and at one point she decided to stay. “I am just lucky that I can live anywhere, and I am happy to be in another culture, learning a different language.”
Food and nature
Katie is also passionate about food and she likes to experiment with tastes and flavours. She also took part to the “vendemmia”, the harvest of grapes for making wine at a Cantina, La Valle del Sole, near Offida, in the Marche. Katie loves baking her own bread and cooking traditional dishes. “In Italy, the countryside seems to me kind of active because there is so much work and so many things grow such as grapes and olives. Whereas in the UK the countryside has become more industrialized, it seems less populous.”
Currently she and the Federation are trying to publish a book in English and Italian including the poetry of Maureen Duffy, the English poet, who joined Massimiliano and Anna Maria Robustelli, who has translated Maureen’s poetry into Italian, for an evening exchanging and celebrating each other’s cultures in London last year. The book documents that evening of poetry, music and conversation. Katie is also translating some poetry from Italian into English.
…and future projects
Katie also loves writing. With all these projects she paused this activity but during the first quarantine she wrote about her experience with local tradition and research of music, poetry and the phenomenon of the “cantastoria”, that she has discovered with Alberi di Maggio. “With this new house I would like to see what I can do independently. Maybe I will start cultural activities to do with the oral and food tradition. My hope is to make it international as well as deepening my engagement with this place.”