by Camilla M.
When and where was he born?
Born in Cagliari on 18.12.1940, in a nuclear family composed only by his parents and his sister, born in 1950. His father was a military officer of the financial guard, but the family didn't talk much and Nino doesn't know why his father ended up working in Cagliari, or under what circumstances he met his mother, since she lived on the other side of Sardinia, in Santa Teresa di Gallura.
Nino was born in a difficult period for the history of Sardinia and Cagliari in particular: in February 1943, during the Second World War, the city of Cagliari suffered terrible bombardments, almost the whole urban fabric was destroyed, and about 50-70 thousand inhabitants abandoned the city and moved elsewhere. His parents never spoke about that period, the only memories that Nino keeps of the transfer from Cagliari to Santa Teresa di Gallura is "the faded image", as he defines it, of a military truck on which he had travelled.
He changed residence several times during his childhood, probably because of his father's work: first to Santa Teresa, then to Cannigione, Cala Gonone and finally to Carbonia, where he moved in 1948, when his father became a tax expert, a prestigious position for the period.
I ask him which city his memories of his youth are most closely linked to.
He tells me that his oldest memories are linked to Cala Gonone, which today is an important tourist centre, but at the time it was a small village with only the Guardia di Finanza barracks and very few houses, many of them uninhabited for most of the year. I particularly remember the summer period because of the lack of water: back then people went to get water with some jugs near a big villa, the Villa of the Counts Ticca, located on a hill, from whose walls flowed water and people took advantage of it to fill the jugs.
Nino remembers having always lived alone, apart from one summer, when he met a little girl of his age, a relative of the Counts Ticca, and played with her to build little mud houses.
He doesn't remember much about school, among the few memories linked to Cala Gonone is that of his mother who taught him how to count using the stones of the beach. He did not have an adequate basic education, and the years of school in Carbonia were difficult. He immediately had to go to a private teacher to try to fill his gaps in Italian and mathematics. It was not the teachers of the school who managed to pass on the most knowledge to him, but those paid by his father's salary, who remembers with great affection, like Don Brunetto, that he gave him repetitions of Latin in the vineyard that surrounded the rectory, on the outskirts of Carbonia.
I try to deepen the story about adolescence, the first falls in love, the meeting with his wife, marriage.
Nino's adolescence is marked by his encounter with a disabled painter, forced into a wheelchair, who made portraits of people passing by his door. Nino was fascinated by the figure of this boy, and decided to introduce him to his high school teacher. He created a group of people around him who began to attend him because they were attracted by his art; among these people there was also a group of young artists who later became the "ASAC" artists group, to which Nino initially belonged as an art critic for national newspapers. It was a very interesting period of his life, full of emotions and knowledge. He also tells about some experiences in the field of sport and gastronomy, the latter lasted ten years, during which he was responsible for promoting the image of the Cooks Association in Sardinia in order to encourage incoming tourism at a time when the island was little known even by Sardinians themselves.
In 1960 there was also the meeting with his wife: it was not a simple relationship, Nino's mother had always been very protective and jealous of him and he did not even have the courage to tell her about his relationship; he asked his sister to intercede for him, because - unlike Nino - he had a special relationship with his mother, and it was she who paved the way for the next marriage.
I ask him if his mother had such a tough temper towards her granddaughters, too, and what it was due to.
Nino answers me that, even after the birth of his two daughters, his mother never had a particularly affectionate character, she limited herself to giving her granddaughters small gifts. But with Nino there was never a particular exchange. Nino lived most of his childhood and adolescence in solitude, he tells me that he doesn't know what the parent-child relationship was like in other families and can't make a comparison, but he believes that theirs was not a normal relationship. The parents were always very authoritarian towards her, especially her mother, who was protective and morbid, especially after she moved to Carbonia, because it was considered a big city and the dangers were greater. Nino could not leave the house except to go to school and to the parish, but he tells of an episode, the time he stole 500 Lire from his mother's wallet, with which he bought a balloon; today, after so many years, he wonders how it came to his mind. Although he was constantly monitored by his mother, on that occasion Nino managed to steal the money, leave the house to go to a big shop in the centre of the city, and go and play with the ball together with a group of other boys. The ball didn't take him home, but his mother discovered the theft, went to the store and got the money back, then beat him up.
I ask him who was the strictest parent in the family, the one who made the main decisions about raising children.
The mother was certainly stricter, also because the father spent little time at home with them, because of work and other commitments he had in the country. The education that was given to Nino was one of obedience: when his mother called him, Nino had to answer "Command!"; it was an expression of military jargon that he had probably learned from his father, who was part of the weapon. Today, as a parent, Nino believes that to educate a child you have to give him a lot of affection and help him to grow, but he doesn't remember these things, he grew up alone.
I ask him if, in his youth, he had any stable relationships with the elderly.
As a child, the only old man he dealt with was his grandfather, in Cala Gonone. He was a shoemaker, there was no particular relationship. Nino explains that he was part of a generation of children who could not know childhood and carefreeness, because of the war, which generated heavy traumas on the whole population, especially on children. "What we have achieved positively, we have conquered once we have grown up and become men".
The adult figures he dealt with as a boy were his private teachers, such as Don Brunetta and Professor Sebastiano Franchina, with whom he had established a relationship of mutual respect, and thanks to whose teachings he became one of the first in his class. When he later became President of the local section of the Italian Sports Centre he met another important figure, that of Don Diaz, whom Nino remembers as an extraordinary person: he spent unforgettable years with him.
After the marriage, Nino spent long periods at his mother-in-law's house, with whom he had established a confidential and intimate, almost maternal, relationship that he never managed to establish with his natural mother. Thanks to his mother-in-law's family, from Bortigali, which was a very large family, Nino knew the affections of the adult world.
I ask him what his relationship, as an adult, was with the world of children, since he worked as a teacher.
He started working as a teacher when he was still a university student, he was only 20 years old, and initially he had a strict attitude with his students, like the one his teachers had had with him, a relationship based on violence that today is no longer tolerable. His teaching method changed after reading a book, "La scuola di Barbiana" by don Milani, which struck him deeply. With his boys he always had a relationship of friendship, sincere, he tried to have understanding for everyone and to give all the boys the opportunity to express themselves.
I ask him how old he retired.
He doesn't remember exactly, he was a little over 60, but when I asked him if he missed the school environment he answered me, without thinking about it for a second, "Absolutely not", and he explained why: he remembers more positively the years of teaching as an undergraduate; after graduation he chose to teach in a school in a small town in Sulcis, Perdaxius, but they were hard years because the boys were not followed by their parents, who washed their hands of them. Most of the class was made up of students with serious difficulties. He tells me that he didn't experience, fortunately, the era of mobile phones at school, which was beginning to make its way among the boys during his last years of teaching, but it was still a niche product and it wasn't used as exaggeratedly and wrongly as it is today.
I'm going to deepen the relationship with technology, Nino uses his mobile phone a lot to inform himself and to communicate.
His relationship with technology began around the 90s, he taught and courses were organized at school to use the computer, but it was a very complex tool to use. When the system you use today with Windows was born, things became less problematic. Nino always used the computer, he even gave a "computer literacy" course to his students, at the end of which each student had to make his own website. "My relationship with computer science - Nino tells me - is one of continuous use and updating". For him, the Internet is an instrument of communication and promotion of culture and science, and he explains it in reference to the activities he organizes for his association, born ten years ago under the name of "S'Ischiglia", which in the language of Logudorese literally means "wake up", to indicate the moment when you have to wake up and activate to build something positive. Then, along the way, the Popular University of Sulcis was founded, which with its activities deals with the permanent education of adults and for several years has organized computer literacy courses for the elderly, to whom children taught basic activities for the use of computers. The association has been very helpful to him because it has allowed him to establish new relationships and recover old ones, both with the world of the University of Cagliari and with schools of lower order.
What, in your opinion, is the role of the elderly today, especially in relation to the new generations?
Grandparents are important figures in families, but many times these figures do not have the opportunity to have much influence on the education of young people, especially if they do not spend much time together. She gives the example of her family, her two daughters and her grandchildren live far away, she has always had an occasional relationship with her grandchildren, she sees them at Christmas and during the summer holidays. The relationship with the children is very limited, because there is no time for a particularly intimate relationship. These children now have mobile phones, when they are not doing their homework they are tinkering with them, and today this tool creates a lot of detachment between people, rather than uniting them; the mobile phone creates virtual relationships, disabusing people of what real relationships are.
What it means to be old in 2020 and what is the message it wants to leave to the new generations.
The contribution that a person of a certain age can make today is to help other older people to feel useful again by trying, where possible, to do something for young people as well. With his association, Nino tries to create opportunities for meeting, even virtual ones. However, he is very critical of young people, he believes that the new generations feel the need of the elderly. Today, above all, with the situation generated by the Coronavirus, the news of the death of hundreds of elderly people who "made Italy" has been emphasized, but - Nino denounces - "many people remembered these elderly people only after they died in hospices, how they lived in hospices we did not worry about them before, society has completely forgotten them. It's a whole generation that is disappearing overwhelmed by the coronavirus and which the new generations can do without [...] It's us old people who are desperately trying to hold on to the present, inventing tricks - like the association we created for ourselves - so as not to be forgotten by a society of young people who can do without the elderly.
The message that Nino feels he is leaving behind is to review the problem of old people's homes: it is true that life expectancy today has increased, and if a person manages to live long enough it can be useful to others, but he must try to make room for himself in a society in which the elderly are marginalized: the old people's home must be lived as a home open to society, with the elderly coming and going continuously and who have something to do in society, also through the means that information technology makes available to us. The elderly must be able to communicate with the world, be in contact with culture. "I see it as bad for us old people, we have to look for a role in society, a role that society no longer attributes to us, we have to make room for our elbows".