Italian town takes a philosophical view on life

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are the new unlikely heroes of a remote Italian town where local authorities are promoting philosophical thinking for a better way of life.

A philosophy trail leads past a sofa that pronounces deep thoughts when you sit on it, a park with no lights to encourage pondering and posters in the town's streets ask questions like "Why were you born?" and "What is fear?"

"This is a revolutionary experiment," the ebullient mayor of Corigliano d'Otranto, Ada Fiore, herself a philosophy teacher, told AFP in an interview.

Fiore said her mission was to get the 5,800 residents of this town in the southern Puglia region to take time out to ponder existential questions.

"All we are saying is 'look at the direction the world is heading in, it's not okay,'" she said, adding that Italy's real problem was not the economic crisis but "the crisis in the relationship between man and his surroundings".

She admitted the project which she launched in June had "objective difficulties" noting that some schoolchildren had not proved very receptive.

But the philosophical consultations she helped organised are proving popular, with around one in five of the mediaeval town's inhabitants flocking to the 15 euro ($19) an hour sessions hosted by philosopher Graziella Lupo.

"People come and consult with me mainly on relationship dynamics," said the bespectacled thinker.

The town council also organises regular philosophy debates and seminars in schools and public buildings to keep residents on their toes.

Other towns in the region are beginning to take note, especially considering the sharp increase in visitors in a part of Italy where tourists are rare.

Concetta Lucarella, a nun visiting Corigliano d'Otranto, said she was particularly impressed by the philosophy trail through the town centre.

"I think people who do the trail reflect on what they hear. It is really a hymn to life," she said.

The jovial 49-year-old owner of a local bar proved equally enthusiastic.

"In answer to the question 'Why was I born?' I used to think I was born to live," said Angelo Anchora, owner of "Castello" in the town centre.

"Then I understood I was also put on this earth to work and mainly to work!"

"We are a bit more optimistic. We have more of a philosophical outlook!" said Anchora, who has put up a sign reading: "Thinking is Ultra-Cool".

Not everyone appreciates the initiatives, with psychologists in particular warning that it could be dangerous to look into people's subconscious.

The mayor dismisses such misgivings, saying the philosophy she is encouraging is "exclusively on the conscious level" with no probing into people's pasts.

Marianna Burlando, a psychologist at a local hospital, is also in favour since "psychology owes a debt to philosophy".

"Philosophy is the mother of all humanistic disciplines. I think we should try and dialogue!"

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippine, Vietnamese troops play soccer and sing on disputed island

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - Vietnamese and Philippine troops played soccer and sang karaoke on a South China Sea island on Wednesday in a sign of the growing security ties between the two Southeast Asian nations most at odds with Beijing over the contested waterway. Cooperation has blossomed between Hanoi and Manila since they shelved decades of enmity over their competing claims in the Spratly archipelago to try to counter China, whose creation of artificial islands in the region …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Fall on renewed U.S. rate hike concerns

    BANGKOK, May 27 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets tumbled on Wednesday as investors resumed selling on expectations of an interest rate hike in the U.S. sooner rather than later, derailing Philippine ... …

  • Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute
    Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute

    As US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan began its journey to Asian waters amid China’s power flexing in the region, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin would try to hear directly from his US counterpart how far America is willing to go to aid its long-time ally against China’s threatening moves in disputed waters. Gazmin flew to Hawaii last Monday to attend ceremonies for the turnover of leadership of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) from Admiral Samuel Locklear to Admiral Harry …

  • Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level
    Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level

    The water level of Angat Dam in Bulacan yesterday fell below the 180-meter critical level for irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said the dam’s water level further dropped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m. yesterday from 180.2 meters on Monday. The priority is the domestic consumption in Metro Manila, according to PAGASA. …

  • PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid
    PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid

    The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) reported yesterday that an estimated P3-billion charity fund has been allocated by Congress to the agency to provide medical assistance to indigent patients and also give funds to other government offices including the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Crop Insurance Program. …

  • Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila
    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a demolition crew begins to tear down a squatters' community at suburban Caloocan city, north of Manila, Philippines. Population growth and the lack of economic opportunities in rural areas have driven millions of Filipinos into the squatters' colonies that dot the sprawling metropolitan area in and around Manila. Most of the land they occupy is privately owned, and clearing the dwellings often results in violence. The landowner had offered about $1,344 in …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Mostly down; Thai shares near 2-week low

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most sharemarkets in Southeast Asia fell on Tuesday with the Thai index ending at a near two-week low and the Philippines touching a near four-week low after trade data while ... …

  • China breaks ground on lighthouse project in South China Sea

    China hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the building of two lighthouses in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Tuesday, a move that is likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing's maritime ambitions. China's Ministry of Transport hosted the ceremony for the construction of two multi-functional lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef on the disputed Spratly islands, state news agency Xinhua said, defying calls from the United States and the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options