Last week Tuesday, two friends and I hopped aboard a plane from London to Bologna — the first time I’d been to this Northern Italian city. Located in the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is quite well known for its food (completely understandable) but also for its annual Children’s Book Fair…well for us Publishing folk it is. Fantastic food + pretty, illustrated books = perfection.
And I would never need an excuse to travel back to ANY part of Italy. However, this trip warranted a bit more than just consuming more pasta and dessert than one should in a single day and haphazardly speaking Italian. As a MA Publishing student at Oxford Brookes, I was lucky to be chosen to give a presentation at this year’s fair. This required a lot of additional stress, prep work and practice (thank you to aforementioned friends and others for their patience listening to me rehearse) but I really wanted to prove to myself that I could get up on a stage and capture an audience’s attention. I also wanted to double-check my Major Project idea was a good one…perfect opportunity right? International Book Fair + a large audience = *oh my god what I am doing* thoughts.
Somehow though, I managed to get through it, and on Wednesday April 1st I presented my idea to create a collection of illustrated children’s books specifically designed to meet the needs of children in developing countries. I’ll be posting more about this project when I have spare time from my university work. But how cool is this? Below is my name on a huge board in the middle of the fair (right at the bottom of the first column on Wednesday):
And above is me (in the blue) joined by a fantastic translator and my tutor, Beverley. As daunting as it was to sit in front of around 40 people and talk about a very important topic for me…what an amazing experience. I would like to thank the audience, for their interest, and my friends and classmates for supporting me. Without giving away too much or jinxing my luck, I can for now just say that it could not have gone better. Awkward moments of talking over the translator were minor in the grand scheme of things and provided some laughs for everyone. And of course, after a day full of meetings and talks with inspirational figures in the industry (and getting there far earlier than necessary), it allowed ample time to explore the interesting city: Bologna.
Exploring the many streets and alleyways is always my favorite past-time for any new city and Bologna provided so much to see. The food was amazing. The colours — rich and bright, exactly why I love European cities — and the general atmosphere and pace of Italian life just makes me feel at home. My only regret is not learning more Italian, but I got by. I even got back to London and my brain was still telling me to say ‘scusi’ and ‘grazie mille’ instead of ‘excuse me’ and ‘thanks so much’.
The famous Towers of Bologna. The only indication that climbing the tower on the left would be an exhausting experience was that the place we ate lunch before, a few meters away, had a logo of the stairs as if indicating: you need to eat here to get your energy to climb the stairs. But those 700 or so dodgy steps led to an impeccable view of the city and the scenic countryside and outskirts.
All and all, a truly wonderful experience. More photos of Florence to come but for now…Ciao! Grazie x