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L'Italo-Americano THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2018 www.italoamericano.org 4 Carlo D'Oriano, the last lighthouse keeper at Punta Carena T he lighthouse, a mys- terious and poetic place, cherished by artists and writers: Virginia Woolf set one of her most popular novels, To the Lighthouse, around one of them, and the immense James Joyce once lived and wrote for days on end in the Martello tower of Sandycove, which isn't really a lighthouse, but that of the light- house has the seafaring impor- tance, the majesty and the charm. The very first scene of his mas- terpiece, Ulysses, is set just there. And how to forget Edward Hop- per's beautiful painting of Cape Elizabeth, in Maine, a place where the awesomeness of the ocean meets the sky and where it's easy to truly see the poetry of all that exists. Thinking about lighthouses means also thinking about whom, century after century, always cared for them, about their guardians: because just as the image we have of these gentle, protecting towers is poetic, so is the idea we have of their men, of their living in symbiosis with the sea and the earth, jealous keepers of unknown messages that only the beautiful solitude of human existence can bring to the sur- face. And, perhaps, it's also thanks to the light melancholy of their charm - so attractive in our mod- ern, fast and often meaningless lives - that lighthouses and their guardians remain a symbol full of romanticism, inspiration for the letters and the arts. But let's not be deceived: for centuries, these buildings have been essential instruments for all sailors, sturdy and reassuring, showing the way to safety in stormy waters, announcing dry land, home, after endless voyages at sea. They con- tributed to the development of sea commerce and transportation in every corner of the world, and this is why their presence is familiar to Italians and Ameri- cans, to South-Africans and Japanese: in their own way, they did bring the world together, year after year, under the same guard- ing light. Leading and caring for these mythical structures, their keepers: wise men, seamen we imagine strong, their eyes as deep as the sea, filled with tales to tell. Men who save, men who keep the light that protects the sea and all those sailing on it, alive. Men who, often, live in solitude, and understand solitude can become a real treasure. But today's world runs fast, too fast. Today's world knows the universe and its secrets, but forgot about human spirit and so the lighthouse and its keepers, once upon a time essential to sea life, have been largely substituted by GPS technology, which helps ships find the right direction, and by systems controlling both lights and electricity and which, whitin the lighthouse itself, want to take the place of Man's hands. There's only a handful of lighthouse keepers left in the world: the UK and the US sent home their last in 1998; Ireland, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Australia and New Zealand haven't had one in ages. And even where they're stil at work, they're not many: one in South Africa, three in France, a couple in India and less than 50 in Canada. As reported in a recent BBC Travel article, there's only about 200 lighthouse guardians left in the world, and it's a real pity. A pity because this job needs knowledge and skills, strong hands and intelligence. It is often hard because of the life condi- tions it imposes, because of the distance from the comforts and commodities of cities, yet, it's a job that has always given a lot back. Beauty and time, to begin with. Then, the scent of the sea and the immense, unequalled gift of giving space to listen to your own thoughts. It's also for these reasons that so many keepers find it hard to leave their lighthouse, their heart breaking at the idea. And here in Italy, we have a special story to tell about all this. The story of the Faro di Punta Carena, in Capri, and of its last keeper, Carlo D'Oriano, a man of the sea who lived and saw so much, whose words are true poet- ry, even when they merely describe the daily upkeeping nec- essary to maintain his marvelous home alive, a lighthouse second in importance and size only to Genoa's very own Lanterna. End- less love fills Carlo's words when he speaks about his lighthouse and his job, and about the person he became after 13 years spent at Punta Carena. A man, Carlo D'O- riano, who's like an extraordinary book when he speaks, because many are the things he knows, he feels, he learned throughout these years. It's from his own voice you, readers of L'Italo Americano, will get to know why being a lighthouse keeper is such a beau- tiful job. Why machines will never manage to substitute his role fully, even if they'll try also here at Punta Carena when, start- ing with the new year, Carlo's place will be taken by them and he'll have to leave his home. And so, Carlo D'Oriano, Punta Carena lighthouse's last keeper, told us how this job transformed him into a poet and how utterly irreplaceable life at the lighthouse truly is. How did you decide to get this job? When I was a child, I always lived by the sea. I was lucky, because I could see a lighthouse from my window, I always lived with its piercing, yet poetically romantic and loving light. And I was lucky again when I was called to serve in the Navy, as a young militare di leva. After I complied with the duties of com- pulsory military service, I decided to remain in the Navy for another four years. Then, thanks to my professional knowledge in the field of mechanical engineering, I joined the Port Authority corps. I worked on rescue ships and patrol boats in different areas of the Mediterranean: Taranto, Naples, Capri, Viareggio, Venice… And then, as a good sailor would do, I decided I wanted to become a lighthouse technician and I specialized also in electron- ics, following courses at the Maritecnofari in La Spezia, Lig- uria. Once I finished my studies, I had my first destination: I became the keeper of a lighthouse, to be precise, of the second most Carlo D'Oriano, the last lighthouse keeper at Punta Carena © Enrico Desiderio - Capri review FRANCESCA BEZZONE Continued to page 6 NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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