Giulia Marchetti Interviews Giulio Della Rocca

Who is Giulio Della Rocca?

Like many people in Italy, I can be many things. I can be a professor of mathematics, I can be a little crazy guy with a bike in the historical center of Viterbo, I can be an art lover, I can be a good friend. I am trying to stop because I don’t want to say only nice things, right? I am also crazy, I am a little bit unpredictable, I am a little bit everything and I believe it’s not me, it is the typical tendency of this part of the world… we can be many things. That’s what I believe.

You went to live in the USA in 1991. How did happen you end up there?

It was not the big deal in the sense I studied mathematics at La Sapienza University in Rome, I got the Laurea degree in Italy and then I  went for the doctorate, the Ph.D. in America. It’s not really special to be fair. And it was fun, it was great, it was inspiring. The next step was admiring the level of population, because America, and the USA, is definitely a level ahead of us. It was great, I had a great time, to be honest, it was fun.

American history is not as deep as ours, and that’s good and bad because they are a little bit more flexible, more adventurous, they can adapt, we can’t. As a population, we are a little slow. At the same time, we have this deep connection with our heritage, our art, our history, our tradition. One thing, just to give an example, in Italy wherever you go there is a sagra (culinary festival) of something. In America, there are not sagras of course, right? Not to mention other traditions like the Macchina di Santa Rosa (Festival of St. Rosa) that are hundreds of years old.  But definitely the USA and Americans are incredibly talented to me and they are so smart that they don’t have to have everything, they just import the best of everything… they are great!

What does it mean to live your life between the USA and Italy?

Well, I think I am the luckiest guy in the world. I can live in America where it is still the land of opportunity, I can work hard, I can do 5 jobs and I can make my future and my daughter’s future. I can come to Italy where, you know, everybody is my friend, I can get along with everybody, it’s great! And now as we are talking we are probably sitting next to a seven hundred years old building. 

What I am trying to say is that if you have the opportunity to live with one foot in Italy and one foot in the US you can really get the best of the both worlds, and this is fantastic, fantastic literally!

So definitely I encourage every American to come here, and potentially even get a little apartment or something like this. To be very practical, at least in California, a house is 1.3 – 1.8 to 2.1 million dollars. Here a beautiful apartment that is potentially five/seven hundred years old could cost 80,000 dollars,  which is, I don’t want to exaggerate, but maybe it is like a few months of an American’s salary. So I believe that the moment Americans discover Viterbo in particular, they will come as a bunch because it is really a good deal, the food is the best, the people are absolutely crazy but they are fun, and every day could be an exploration and discovery. The Tuscia area is a constellation of precious gems, such as  Civita di Bagnoreggio, Caprarola, Bomarzo and I can keep going on an on. It’s really enchanting, it’s a great place!

American people, they know very well Tuscany. They are fond of Tuscany. But at the same time, we can say that Tuscia is a kind of low Tuscany, we have also more or less the same linguistic accent, and anyway the same landscape. Tuscany is a myth in the USA but Americans don’t know very well theTuscia area which definitely is more affordable. I mean, if you want to buy a home here obviously is at a much more reasonable price than Tuscany. What do you think about the relationship between Tuscany and Tuscia? What are the main differences? And can we say that somehow this area doesn’t have the notoriety that it deserves because Tuscany somehow creates a kind of shadow?

Two aspects need to be always considered when we talk about this thing: 1) the cradle of the Renaissance is in Tuscany. At that time there was a group of people that were incredibly smart, genius, they were ahead of everything or every part of the world. So, in many ways, Tuscany is still feeling the long wave of that incredible period.

2) Secondly, Tuscany is gifted in many possible ways, and in the early ‘90s if I not mistaken there was a very beautiful movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” that captured the imagination of generations. So, the day before the release of that movie a casale, that is a rural house in Tuscany, was maybe, let’s say in today’s money 200,000 Euro, the day after that movie its price doubled to 400,000 Euro.  Tuscany is still feeling that wave.

Americans love Tuscany. If you say Tuscany everybody knows what you are talking about. You say Tuscany wine and people start dreaming, right? Now it is true that Tuscany is a beautiful region but I would argue that as you said the landscape is very similar.

Regarding the Tuscia, it was St Peter’s territory and the Pope back in the centuries donated a little piece of this area to whoever could manage it.  What does it mean? It means that many powerful families started to build castles and sumptuous palaces leaving us an inestimable heritage.  One for all is the Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola, it’s breathtaking. A touristic guide said that went in for 150 times and 150 times he had this moment of Ah!!! The Stendhal syndrome. It is really incredible, right? And than Parco dei Mostri (Monster’s Park), Castello Ruspoli, Villa Lante, Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, and so on.

So, I would argue that is better to come to Tuscia that as you said is more affordable, and then you can go to Rome in an hour, and you can also go to Tuscany maybe in two hours.

 So, you are telling me that the best advice is to come to Tuscia and then visit also Rome and Tuscany that are so close. Tuscany is absolutely gorgeous, but you are much more likely to meet a bunch of tourists that make the offer much less genuine. Tuscia is genuine and unspoiled by big tourism and this is also the reason why prices are more affordable and life is more Italian. Here you can really enjoy the real Italian way of life.

As much as we would like to have many American tourists, or Americans moving to live in Tuscia, we can say that at the moment we are incredibly attractive because we are by far the best-kept secret in the world. I mean, we are really fantastic but nobody knows about that yet. I give you an example if you and I try very hard probably could name two or three restaurants that are basically, exclusively for tourists, all the others are not. In Tuscany, it is just the opposite. They are fantastic, they are great, but we are better 🙂

In terms of human connections, what do you think about people coming here, or moving here, particularly American people? What kind of relationship can they get involved with local people? What do you think?

All my American friends, all of them literally, came to Italy at some point in their lives. Somebody came multiple times, somebody comes every year. All of them,  100% of them do not talk about Colusseum or Florence or anything, they talk about the relationship they experienced with local people. For instance, they talk about mum and dad, owners of the restaurant where they went for dinner, and that offered them the Limoncello or some other liquor homemade, trying to engage them a funny gesture conversation. Americans are mesmerized to the point they decide to stay longer in that place to go back to that restaurant. So by all means, Americans love this human connection that we, local people,  just have. That’s not that we pretend it because we want to please the customer.  We are just like this, and Americans absolutely love it. Human connections are just natural behavior.

Can we say that also local people have beautiful experiences when they have the chance to meet American people and it can be like an event? It is a good way also to discover the American culture trying to grasp something from everything they come across just staying together. It is something that really enriches local people, too. So this is a matter of human connections.

Now, I don’t want to sound too funny but when Americans come here it is easy for them to come across someone who would like to talk English with them. But the funny idea is that after a while Italians say: “Do you mind if I speak Italian? 🙂

That’s another Italian problem, we have to say that, we have to be honest. We are not so skilled with languages, yes. We love so much Italian that we are lazy to learn English. That’s the problem.

That is true but I have to say that Americans love the sound of the Italian language, and the same is for Italians towards the English language. For example, right now we are just chatting in English and we can notice that people who pass by are curious and fascinated by our speaking. Maybe, it’s the sound, the music, but English is really attractive for Italians.

Thank you so much, Giulio

You’re very welcome.

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