…. and now I’m here

by Morena Maresia, Soprintendenza Archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio del Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Abstract IT:

 . . . adesso sono qui

Iniziativa culturale che ha motivato persone nate o scresciute al di fuori dell’Italia ma che adesso vivono qui a raccontare realizzando un elaborato creativo un elemento del patrimonio culturale del Friuli Venezia Giulia in cui identificano la loro prospettiva di vita ad oggi.

I lavori realizzati ci raccontano l’eterogeneità, la ricchezza, la storia di un territorio di emigrazione e immigrazione, incontri, ritorni, scambi, confronti e dialoghi.

Parole chiave: Patrimonio culturale / diritti umani e democrazia / partecipazione e protagonismo / identità / empatia/ contesto eterogeneo

Abstracts EN:

 …and now I’m here

Cultural initiative that motivated people who were born or grew up outside Italy but now live here to tell by making a creative work an element of the cultural heritage of Friuli Venezia Giulia in which they identify their perspective of life to date.

The works created tell us about the heterogeneity, richness, and history of a territory of emigration and immigration, encounters, returns, exchanges, comparisons and dialogues.

Keywords: Cultural heritage / human rights and democracy / participation and protagonism / identity / empathy / heterogeneous context


On September 24, in occasion of the European Heritage Days 2022, promoted by the European Council and by the Italian Ministry of Culture with the slogan “Sustainable cultural heritage: a legacy for the future” the Soprintendenza Archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio of Friuli Venezia Giulia collected and awarded local creative works. This initiative was named …and now I’m here[1].

The initiative contributed to our activity of Education on the cultural heritage with the aim to celebrate our cultural heritage by focusing on the right of access to culture as a form of participation and foundation of democracy.

We strived to encourage a reflection over specific local and individual characteristics that contribute to enrich the multicultural setting of the European Union, strengthening the sense of belonging to a shared European space, in accordance with the Faro Convention.

The drawings, photographs, short stories, videos and short films that were submitted as part of the initiative tell the story of the Friuli Venezia Giulia’s cultural heritage in an original manner, from the perspective of those that began their lives outside the Italian borders and now are settled within them.

The protagonists of this initiative are foreigners with temporary or permanent residency in Friuli Venezia Giulia, who might have been born or educated without the Italian borders. After formal application to the initiative in May this year, they have been trained and supported throughout this project, which led to the production of creative works representative of the way participants perceive their own life paths intersect with the cultural heritage in Friuli.

A public presentation[2] and an exhibition have been organised to celebrate these works, which are also uploaded on our official website: https://sabapfvg.cultura.gov.it/[3].

Participants are between 15 and 80 years old and come from 4 different continents (Europe, Asia, North Africa and South America). They belong to heterogeneous socio-cultural statuses, age groups and have different origins.

All of them put in a lot of effort, challenged themselves and contributed in an original and personal way to assign new meaning to the concept of cultural good. Specific project research supported and valorised the expressive potential of each participant. They used their own artistic techniques, their storytelling skills and other individual competencies to describe a part of our cultural heritage.

Participants chose a variety of different places and buildings to describe[4]. They narrated the stories of libraries, public theatres, monuments, religious buildings, landscapes testament of The Great War, public squares, neighbourhoods. A series of locations across different counties and the whole region, including the headquarters of the Soprintendenza, Palazzo Economo in the Borgo Teresiano of Trieste. This is a noble palace located in Piazza Liberta’ and built in 1891, upon commission of a merchant of Greek origins, Giovanni Economo, as a statement of his social and economic power. Interestingly, it was a participant of Greek origins that picked this palace for his creative work as part of the initiative.  

Legends, traditions and stories of rural everyday life were also narrated, intangible heritage etnoanthropologically unfolded by us, here and now.

In all cases we find unusual, for us locals, depictions of the heritage of Friuli Venezia Giulia, which is this way enriched by the lives of the narrators, who have observed it from the perspective of their own culture. “With their senses and sensibility” they have transformed this encounter in “exchange, comment, discourse” (Dallari, 2005, 19).

All participants have shared with us something about themselves, intimate and personal reflections. They have found a way of storytelling that makes it possible for the listeners to feel permeable to others’ stories (Cavarero, 2001), to empathically bridge the gap and open to new emotions.

Individual stories to be listened to accurately and carefully, to be analysed and reflected upon. These stories depict the complexity of the whole by nevertheless remaining unique and personal. They shouldn’t be generalised.

From these works we tried to understand what our cultural heritage tells about us in 2022. Who are the individuals that make that part of our Friuli that we can define as Europe of the people today?

Although small and still in the making, this initiative gives nonetheless a true picture of 2022, of people that want to understand and to be part of the place they live in, in this moment in time, trying to leave a trace, a mark, a legacy.

The Superintendence preserves every single artwork, artifact, urban area and historical landscape, their tangible and intangible value, so that they can still communicate something to those who look at them, know them, use them and so that they can still inspire emotions, thoughts and ideas and ignite what Cesare Brandi defines as Epiphany (Brandi, 1977).

Thoughts and ideas that build our identity, because the elements of the cultural heritage represent the identity of a place, a moment in history and become this way meaningful to all of us. They might become representative of a specific moment in our lives, of our childhood, of our education or they might represent the final destination of a life journey.

Where places and their aura remain still, spaces and memories become part of the cultural heritage and endure time, with the ability to ignite our individual epiphanies. In this “La Modernità liquida” (Bauman, 2002) concept perfectly described by Bauman, made of fragmented social interactions, change and extreme uncertainty, even our identity becomes fluid and complex. The cultural heritage stays still, unchanged, immutable, with its historical significance and our feelings enhancing that significance.

Our cultural heritage is a reference point for the people arriving and those that come back after being away.

The educational aim of this project is to trace an initial route towards the identification of our individual identities in the essential elements of the cultural heritage. And from our individuality push ourselves to open to a collective identity, within the regional, national and European context. We are encouraged to embrace and help build a Europe of people and cultures, based on peace and democracy.

There are many examples of mixophilia in the artistic and historical heritage of Friuli Venezia Giulia. For a long time this land has been an emblematic melting pot of people and cultures, a land to be conquered and visited since ancient times, permeable border between the Mediterranean and eastern Europe. Here, the encounter of different cultures has always brought to positive development and enrichment.

One of the most important artistic endeavours in this area is the Longobard Temple of Cividale del Friuli, formerly founded by the Romans with the name of Forum Julii. The peculiar stucco statues of martyrs dated VIII A.D. in this temple are testament of a joint effort of the wealthy and intellectual Longbard elite (German population migrated from North Europe) as commissioners and the extremely skilled Sassanid craftsmen as executors (Spadea et al, 1995).

The craftsmen came from the Second Persian Empire, roughly entailing the current Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Siria. The empire at this time was going through an iconoclastic phase consequent to the evolving of Islam and consequently many figurative artists decided to migrate west, via the Mediterranean and Adriatic sea, all the way to Cividale.

Today, in a different way, history is repeating itself and routes are retraced to our land of emigration and immigration.

The creative works made by the participants to our initiative outline also our history as migrants, when between the XIX and the XX century many from Friuli moved to South America, Canada and Australia. To this day, there are hundreds of Fogolars Furlans[5] all around the world.

Current migrations are entirely directed towards Europe and the West, because of demographical unbalance, wars, political unsteadiness and the ecological crisis. For those migrating via the Balkan  Route towards Europe, Friuli is still the way through, the main gate, the only passage.

The protagonist role of the participants in the creative works is a key concept

“My role in the world, in the end, is not to adapt, but to push through. This is the role of those who fight not to be subjected to history but rather to be its makers”  (Freire, 2004, 48). This experience has activated in all participants an Agency, or the ability and willingness to self-determinate and unlock individual creative, social, communicative and emotional skills.

The creative works made by the participants are complex and multifaceted, leaving space to experimentation with effects, words, signs. This is an example of Bildung, in German “personal growth”, which refers to individual process of self-shaping or self-building, in simple words the fulfilling of someone’s identity and potential.

Whether 17 or 80 years old, we keep redefining ourselves and experimenting, deepening our connection with the values of our community and looking for an efficient way to transmit them.

All participants, using different media have reached an autobiographical narration because “to be in the world means necessarily to be with the world and with others. It’s impossible to be in the world without making history and without being forged by history, without creating culture, without “treating” our own presence in the world, dreaming, signing, composing, painting” (Freire, 2004,51).

This project is fruitful and difficult because it involves very different and diverse people. When observing these creative works, we have to apply a critical ethnocentrism (De Martino), or in other words we have to be open to other points of view to represent this heterogeneous, varied, rich and multifaceted reality. To understand each other a little bit better in this weird 2022, we simply can look at these beautiful works and find in each of them, a piece of ourselves. The American philosopher Martha Nussbaum, in her book Cultivating Humanity, defines “narrative imagination” or the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, as a fundamental requisite of citizenship (Nussbaum 2006).

All the works created by participants softly inspire empathy.

A central theme in most works is the redefinition of identity, which can reach different levels of complexity. Some participants describe the daily struggles of living with a dual identity and define it as an obstacle to developing an individual identity, some others live this duality as a gift and are aware of the advantages their unique forma mentis provides them with in daily life.

We learn that it’s not a meeting of cultures but of people, who are the ones creating heterogenous contexts (Zoletto, 2012), where the culture cannot reflect the perspective of the single and where the etherolocalism translates into a coexistence of the identity of here and now with the identity we have left in our homeland, which we are quickly reconnected to with a simple videocall.

It’s the urban environment, the tangible places and the spaces of meeting that redefine the new way of finding ourselves “in the right place and comfortable”. Finding our own place allows us to feel part of a complex collective context.

Reaching to the conclusion of this article dedicated to the education to the cultural heritage and particularly focused on Citizenship Education of the new European citizens, “the process of cultural metissage (hybridization) which the new influx of people is destined to cause is inevitably… a source of enrichment and creativity, for the European civilisation as for any other” (Bauman, 2012,13).

I invite you to watch the videos about the cultural heritage in Friuli Venezia Giulia made by a young man who 6 years ago could speak nothing but Urdu and now has produced these videos in English, Arabic, Slovenian and Italian. May this be testimony of the fact that the heritage of this community of legacy can be expressed in different languages and words and bear new meanings.  


Bauman Z. (2002) Modernità Liquida, Roma: Laterza.

Bauman Z. (2012) Conversazioni sull’educazione, Trento: Erickson.

Brandi, C. (1977) Teoria del restauro, Torino: Einaudi.

Dallari M.  (2005) L’arte per i bambini in Educare all’Arte a cura di C. Francucci, P. Vassalli, Milano: Mondadori Electa.

Cavarero, A. (2001) Tu che mi guardi, tu che mi racconti. Filosofia della narrazione, Milano: Feltrinelli.

Freire, P. (2004) Pedagogia dell’autonomia. Saperi necessari per la pratica educativa, Torino: Ega.

Nussbaum M.C. (2006) Coltivare l’umanità. I classici, il multiculturalismo, l’educazione contemporanea, Roma: Carrocci.

Recalcati, M. (2014) L’ora di lezione. Per un’erotica dell’insegnamento, Torino: Einaudi.

Spadea P., Perusini T., Casadio P. (1995) Comparative study of late antique and early middle age stuccos with particular regard to the Tempietto Longobardo from Cividale, NE Italy, proceedings of 1’ International congress on: Science and technology for the safeguard of cultural heritage in the mediterranean basin, Siracura.

Vinella, M. (2015) Educare all’arte. Pedagogia dello sguardo e didattica visiva, Lecce: Pensa Ed.

Zoletto, D. (2012) Dall’intercultura ai contesti eterogenei : presupposti teorici e ambiti di ricerca pedagogica, Milano: Angeli.

[1] Project of the Educational Services of the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle arti e paesaggio del Friuli, Venezia, Giulia. Superintendent Dr. Simonettta Bonomi; conception and realization by Morena Maresia; presentation with the collaboration of Paola Bottan, Gabriele Botti, Roberta Cuttini, Morena D’Aronco, Elisabetta Francescutti, Vincenzo Giampaolo, Annamaria Nicastro, Mirko Pellegrini, Paola Piasentin, and Simonetta Sciacca; English translations by Alice Carbone.  Public call for applications https://sabapfvg.cultura.gov.it/e-adesso-sono-qui-giornate-europee-del-patrimonio-2022/

[2] Presentation of the project at Palazzo Clabassi, Udine on September 24, 2022: greetings by Superintendent Dr. Simonetta Bonomi; presentation of the protagonists of the multimedia works and the results of participation in the cultural initiative by Morena Maresia, Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle arti e Paesaggio del Friuli Venezia Giulia. Speeches by: Carmine Marinucci, President of International Association #DiCultHer, Editor-in-Chief of “Culture Digitali” magazine; Alessandro Russo, IRES Institute of Economic and Social Research Friuli Venezia Giulia; Giovanna Alborghetti, Lecturer and psychopedagogist, expert in intercultural education, Udine; Marco Ius, Lecturer in Intercultural Pedagogy, Department of Humanistic Studies, University of Trieste. https://sabapfvg.cultura.gov.it/e-adesso-sono-qui-giornate-europee-del-patrimonio-2022-2/

[3] Each work is accompanied by a brief, simplified and accessible caption, an introduction to the author and a synthetic description of the represented part of the cultural heritage.

[4] We find a wide selection of those defined as cultural heritage by the Code of Cultural and Landscape Heritage Legislative Decree No. 42/2004.

[5] Associations that gather the cultural and social inheritance of emigrated Friulani around the world, which romote the preservation and development of the language and culture amongst the Friulani” of the next generation” and the relationship between these communities and the homeland”. https://www.friulinelmondo.com/


Morena Maresia

Soprintendenza Archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio del Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Restauratrice di beni culturali specializzata in Superfici dell’architettura presso la scuola di restauro di Villa Manin di Passariano (UD), educatrice socio-pedagogica (Università degli Studi di Udine), specializzata in didattica dell’arte e nella formazione di educatori e docenti. Impegnata sui temi della fruizione, valorizzazione, accessibilità e inclusione culturale.

Da sempre alla ricerca di nuovi percorsi e strategie per avvicinare, coinvolgere grandi e piccini e sperimentare le potenzialità dell’arte e del patrimonio culturale e il loro ruolo sociale.