Alberto, doctor

I meet Alberto, always, at the high noon of these years of mine, in cities, either lived or gone through, with lightness and enjoyment. Alberto – his stories, his motorbike and the incredible selection of wines during our dinners, which become the backdrop to our all-round reflections. We met at the same poetry prize to which, after all, you reader owe the birth of the magazine you’re reading. The poet now works as a doctor, in an admirable way. And he has created with another poet of that season, Licia, a splendid family.


Your story in 10 lines 

I was born in Genoa, third of four children. My parents originate from other parts of Italy, but soon enough I develop a great fondness for my city of birth and obviously for the Genoa football team, which is one of those things that always clings to you. In high school I do some voluntary work with children in a poor neighbourhood of the city. I start university in Genoa, completing it in Trieste. At 25, in an enchanting little town in the Tuscan countryside, I took part at a poetry contest where the prize (granted to all!) consisted in a week’s residency and cultural events. On that occasion, I met the woman who was to become my wife and other people towards whom I’ve stayed very attached to. My wife, I married her when I hadn’t enough strength anymore to visit her on a bicycle, so then she moved to Trieste and we built a family. Prior to finishing the university, I carried out my civil service within the largest hospice of the city: a year I always carry with me thanks to the Istrian-Venetian-Triestan dialect I learnt, the elderly I met, the conchies with whom I experienced unforgettable moments. This is were I settled down, from the sea to the Carso, from the bicycle to the motorbike, from my relatives to the animals that accompany us.


The difficulties working as a pediatrician in a big hospital? 

There are many difficulties. In general, it is hard trying to do whatever profession well, balancing theoretical knowledge and practical decisions, complexities and synthesis. And this is due to the fact that the medical science of a pediatric centre is nowadays, above all, made up of rare and complex diseases. This means that one has continuously to share information with other specialists, also because knowledge is always evolving. We, ourselves, within a global network of doctors, are responsible, due to our research and observations of this constant progress. On the other hand, the care of each single patient requires extrapolating from the overall complex picture specific problems, balancing newness with certainties, searching for the simplest understanding of things.

This is difficult, but extremely stimulating especially for those, like myself, who always have an expert above to refer to and behind someone young that pushes you forward with his enthusiasm. Then, there are the difficulties, which should not exist, the administrative ones, which waste time and resources that could be better employed differently. For example, I’m referring to the proliferation of unfathomable forms hypocritically produced to guarantee patients’ privacy. But this seems to me a more general problem.


What does the society do for you?

Whatever might be the idea of society, I can say that it does a lot. All in all, it seems to me I don’t have particular demands towards society. I believe that what one expects from society is finding a position, a sense of identity amongst others and of course some opportunities to be able to work, to be a family, to look upon the following day peacefully. Thanks to society, or maybe my own unconsciousness, I have a reasonable sense of security, freedom and culture. I believe it’s the people around us that somehow nourish this perception, and in a lesser way the institutions. In the sense that all depends from a particular set of factors, which includes the general level of well-being, personal satisfaction, administrative functioning and culture. Of course, there are moments in which society can seem over egotistical, dangerous and even lacking perspective. Nevertheless, it’s usually the need for reaction which prevails and then each one of us decides which forces and emotions should be left to influence us. For instance, I can’t help alluding to the various voluntary associations with which over the past, several years we have collaborated in my work and that have supported us with commitment and genuineness.



What do you do for society? 

I do my job, with passion, dedication and honesty. I try to teach the things I learn as soon as they become reasonably clear to me: this benefits me and, I hope, contributes in gaining the respect of others, which is always important to me. Then, I try to have a normal family and this, I think, is also important for society. Again, I spend time with friends when I can, this also, I believe, is something good for society: being together vis-a-vis normal values, without the presumption to change the world, but then again without the instinct to destroy it.



Is there something beautiful that has happened to you recently? 

Receiving a beautiful guitar on my birthday from my wife and my daughters. It’s wonderful because they know I would’ve never bought it by myself, for I’m a terrible player. But actually I really like to play and their thought touched me.


A culinary passion? 

There are many. When I can, I like to cook. For heaven’s sake, I don’t consider myself a good cook, but I like letting the taste of the season and period influence my cooking. When my daughters where younger I liked to cook as a team: it was a way of doing things together and further enjoying what had been prepared. If I must mention a single dish, I choose Genoese focaccia, even though and possibly above all because I’ll never be able to make the one I ate as a child!


Your favourite drinks? 

With no doubt wine. Best if bought directly from the producer, keeping in mind the images, colours and smells of the earth where it originates from, but also the talk of the people, the smell of the cellars and the taste of local traditions. I think when we talk about the food and wine heritage of our country we still can’t understand all the diversity and above all that part which remains individual and tied to our individualexperiences.



The music or a book that accompanies you? 

Music is important, I try to enjoy it in the rare moments of relax. I have very diverse tastes, from classical to melodic to rock. However, the music most rooted in me is probably the one using words, with poetry inside, such as the music by Fabrizio De Andrè and other songwriters. I regret not having immediacy in understanding the lyrics inEnglish because I realize this doesn’t allow me to fully appreciate a lot of music, which after all I listen to. Books: nowadays I only read on the train, the last great one, Una stella incoronata di buio, by Benedetta Tobagi.


A talent you have, one you’re missing? 

I don’t think I’ve any true talents, and even if I had any, I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never applied sufficient tenacity and constancy in the things I’ve done. If I have to choose, I’d say photography, because I manage to express something, which at times is significant. Let’s be clear, I don’t think of myself as a photographer, I’m well aware that the profession and art of photography are something very different, but It’s good enough for me and I like it. A talent I lack is the one for music. Sure, if I’d studied it seriously, I could rejoice with singing and an instrument, instead of strumming the guitar with anarchic and improbable rhythms. Having talent is something else, it means having a natural gift upon which it’s a pleasure to work on.



What have you learnt form life? 

To go forward. Stop feeling sorry for myself. In other words, to live. What else can we learn from life?



Translation by Paolo Witte

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