Griffith Review dedicated a special edition to the relationship between Australia and Europe, titled The European Exchange. Writer and journalist Gabriella Coslovich has written a meditation based on her recent stay in Rome and her long relationship with her country of origin.
Between 2019 and early 2020, Italo-Australian journalist and writer Gabriella Coslovich got to spend six months in Rome, thanks to a writing residency by the Australia Council for the Arts.
Every year Australian writers can apply to spend a few months focusing on a creative project at the BR Whiting Studio, a Trastevere apartment generously donated several years ago for this very purpose by poet ‘Bertie’ Whiting and his wife, Australian artist Lorri.
"I had been to Rome four or five times, but always as a tourist", Gabriella tells SBS Italian. Living there for six months has changed her perception of the eternal city, by letting her know the reality of it: "I got to know the city in its complexity, its ugliness, its richness, I have found out its secrets".
Gabriella and her partner came back to Hobart at the beginning of February, just as the coronavirus pandemic was starting to hit Italy.
Staying in Rome also gave Gabriella an opportunity to reconnect with her mother tongue.
Coslovich was born in Trieste and came to Australia when she was only 3 years old. She didn't learn English until she went to primary school at the age of five.
Her prolonged stay in Rome coincided with a writing project rooted in her migration experience, and her experience of growing up in Australia in an Italian family.
"I realise I am a hybrid, I belong here in Australia but I belong there [in Italy] too", but with time, she explains, she has made peace with this feeling. "Now I feel at peace, after all why shouldn't I be this wonderful mix of cultures?".
Gabriella Coslovich's piece Out of time. A toast to the eternal city is published in the current issue of the Griffith Review.
Listen to her interview (in Italian):
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