On Sunday, September 29th 2019, within the events of the 65th edition of the LericiPea Golfo dei Poeti Prize, the first Italian Poetry “Walk of Fame” was inaugurated in Lerici.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the death of the poet, writer and playwright Sem Benelli, who called the Lerici Gulf “Gulf of Poets” and after whom the promenade between the San Terenzo and the Lerici is named, 33 commemorative plaques were placed along the promenade: 31 plaques feature the names of the winning poets of the LericiPea “Lifetime Achievement” Prize from 1991 to 2019; 2 plaques are dedicated to the winners of two Special Prizes, the poets Giuseppe Conte and Mladen Machiedo.
On February 19th 2020, a new marble plaque was placed at the beginning of the “Sem Benelli” promenade, on the San Terenzo side, to commemorate the local and beloved poet Paolo Bertolani, who won the LericiPea Prize in 1990.
(Filettole, 10th August 1877 – Zoagli, 18th December 1949)
Italian poet, writer and playwright; author of opera librettos and film screenplays.
He is chiefly famous for his play “La cena delle beffe” (“The Jester’s Supper”), which apparently he finished during his stay in San Terenzo (Lerici), when he was a guest of Villa Marigola in the early twentieth century.
It was Sem Benelli himself who, for the first time, called “Gulf of Poets” the bay between San Terenzo and Lerici. This worldwide-famous quote was pronounced by Benelli during the memorial of the writer and scientist Paolo Mantegazza (1910):
“Beato te, o Poeta della scienza,
che riposi in pace nel Golfo dei Poeti”
(“Blessed are you, Poet of science / who rest in peace in the Gulf of Poets”)
In calling this bay “Gulf of Poets”, Sem Benelli had in mind the great poets who had visited and lived here before him: Percy Bysshe Shelley with his wife Mary W. Godwin came to San Terenzo in 1822, and they chose to stay in Villa Magni. At the end of September 1822 Lord Byron also stayed in Lerici: “The sea revived me instantly; and I ate the sailors’ cold fish, and drank a gallon of country wine”. Following in Shelley’s footsteps, in 1909 the novelist Henry James came to San Terenzo and, in the same years, the painter and sculptor Arnold Böcklin spent his holidays here. In September 1913, D.H. Lawrence and his wife rented Ettore Gambrosie’’s pink Villa (also known as Villa Bijou) in Fiascherino, Lerici, until June 1914. Here, Lawrence hosted Lasceller Abercrombie and the poets W. Wilson Gibson and Robert C. Trevelyan.
In May 1933 Virginia Woolf also spent come time in San Terenzo, Lerici, at Miramare hotel, near Villa Magni: “Lerici is hot and blue. And it does the bay”. It is also worth remembering the writer Emma Orczy, author of the novel “The scarlet Pimpernel”: she built Villa La Padula on the hills of Lerici, and lived there from 1927 to 1933; and Percy Lubbock, who made the beautiful Villa Scafari, between the bay of Fiascherino and Lerici, his permanent residence, and was visited there by important men and women of letters, including the novelist E. M. Forster.
The beauty of the Gulf od Poets was also appreciated by many Italian authors and artists like Sem Benelli, Gabriele D’Annunzio – who also spent some time in Villa Marigola – Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Eugenio Montale, who dedicated the poem “Verso Tellaro” (“Towards Tellaro”) to the sea village of Tellaro. Writer and film director Mario Soldati spent his last years in Tellaro, till June 1999; and not far from Soldati’s villa, the poet Attilio Bertolucci vacationed for many years. Giovanni Giudici decided to move to La Serra, in the hills of Lerici, where the dialect poet Paolo Bertolani was born and lived; moreover, in 1963 Charles Tomlinson dedicated the poem “up at La Serra” to this beautiful village. Lerici also hosted important publishers such as Mario Spagnol and Count Valentino Bompiani, who, in 1946, restored a small villa near the Castle of Lerici and hosted many great intellectuals of the time, including Alberto Moravia and Pier Paolo Pasolini.
The tradition continues and is kept alive by LericiPea Golfo dei Poeti Poetry Prize, which has been held in Lerici since 1954.
Along this Poetry “Walk of Fame” going from Lerici to San Terenzo we remembered all the poets awarded with the International LericiPea “Lifetime Achievement” Prize from the 90s to today. A section that we hope will continue rewarding the worldwide greatest poets.
1991 – Dario Bellezza
1992 – Valentino Zeichen
1993 – Fernando Bandini
1994 – Alessandro Parronchi
1995 – Maria Luisa Spaziani
1996 – Giovanni Giudici
1996 – Paolo Ruffilli
1998 – Mario Luzi
1999 – Attilio Bertolucci
2004 – Edoardo Sanguineti
2014 – Gabriella Sica
2017 – Milo De Angelis
2000 – Adonis
2001 – Yves Bonnefoy
2002 – Hans Magnus Enzensberger
2003 – Juan Gelman
2005 – Seamus Heaney
2006 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti
2007 – Jesper Svembro
2008 – Bella Achmadulina
2009 – François Cheng
2010 – Ismail Kadare
2011 – Márcia Theóphilo
2013 – Titos Patrikios
2014 – Agi Mishol
2014 – Amel Moussa
2015 – Tahar Ben Jelloun
2016 – Cees Nooteboom
2018 – Carol Ann Duffy
2019 – Antonio Colinas
Inauguration of the plaque dedicated to Paolo Bertolani – Lerici, February 19th 2020
Lerici, inauguration of the Poet’s promenade – Tele Liguria Sud 09/30/2019
San Terenzo, a plaque to the poet Paolo Bertolani – Tele Liguria Sud 02/19/2019