Sveva Casati Modignani, the great coral tradition in Torre del Greco
“Coral craftsmanship is a hereditary disease, it is in your genes for your whole life and you cannot do anything about it.”
This is how Sveva Casati Modignani talks about red gold in her latest novel “Palazzo Sogliano”, which tells a story about a coral making family from Torre del Greco. A land where adventure is contained in the solidity of a family: two characters that impressed the writer a few years ago while visiting the southern town for the coral making bicentennial celebration. The author herself tells Preziosa Magazine about it, having chosen Torre del Greco for the debut of her 26th publication. She is welcomed by Tommaso Mazza, president of Assocoral and organizer of the event in her honor. Or better, in the honor of coral.
Why Torre del Greco? Why is the main character a coral maker?
“The world of coral making has completely mesmerized me. In 2006 I came to this seaside town to mentor a group of young stylists: a Milanese native like myself could never fall for somewhere like this. But was amazed not so much by the beauty of the locations as I was by the people. I listened to stories told by coral makers: before that moment I knew nothing about coral. I could have never imagined what an extraordinary world is hidden behind this natural wonder. Two days were plenty, I went back home with one mission: to tell the story about coral”.
What role does red gold play in your book?
“Everything in ‘Palazzo Sogliano’ is about coral. Starting with the love story between Edoardo, a craftsman from a long line of coral makers, and Orsola, a woman from the north who learns to love her husband’s trade to the point of becoming a crafter herself. A continuous reliving past and present between the two and their son, who at a certain point decides to distance himself from coral. But he keeps coming back to Torre del Greco because coral grows inside of you and stays there forever. This is the profound message I received from the people who live in this town. They never give up and generation after generation, they all live for coral with the same enthusiasm. “
How much coral is in your jewelry box?
“The first piece showed up amongst my jewelry a few years ago, now I wear it as a lucky charm. The editor of my book gave me and the sales team a coral horn: it may be superstition, but ever since I’ve worn it nothing has gone wrong. Now I like this kind of southern superstition: I’m becoming a believer. Nevertheless, I love the trinkets.”
Do you think coral making began here because the sea is so close?
“No, that would be too easy. These people are incredible: the fact that coral is the symbol of Torre del Greco is not just a matter of ‘logistics’, it is thanks to the inhabitants, their sense of adventure, and the central role the family plays that has given life to extraordinary and historic businesses. Coral makers travel the planet but return here to create art that is unique”.
What should a women never give up?
“Her femininity: never wear the pants. Never give up grace, generosity, fantasy.