«I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!». How many times, in The Hobbit, did Bilbo mutter these words? This most beloved character keeps longing for home because his is not just a mere dwelling place but a hobbit-hole: cozy, warm, and full of interesting things!
It’s precisely with that passage in mind that Associazione Italiana Studi Tolkieniani (Italian Association of Tolkien Studies) has been imagining his own hobbit-hole: an abode for the Association, its headquarters, a research centre, a museum, a new home for Tolkien studies and a welcoming place for scholars, readers and fans of Tolkien’s works (as well as of the movies they originated); all this in one place, open and free for everybody to visit and enjoy.
A dream? It might well seem so, if not for the fact that a first step towards the realization of the project, which has been worked upon for several months now, has just been made. In Dozza, a small, picturesque village near Bologna, the municipal corporation has recently approved a partnership with AIST, making a communal property in the historic centre available as the to-become newborn Tolkien research/exposition centre.
From 2014 to 2016 AIST has chosen Sforza’s Castle in Dozza as the location of FantastikA, a popular festival entirely devoted to fantasy art and literature, with a special focus on Tolkien masterpieces. This initiative has involved artists, illustrators and writers, and has attracted plenty of visitors — not just specialists — thanks also to evocative exhibitions like “The birth of a Dragon”, held in the castle tower during the 2016 edition.
The historic building chosen to become the new home for Tolkien initiatives is a small, central palace (located in Via XX Settembre 2) which will be refurbished in order to host exhibitions, conferences, seminars, and so on. AIST president, Roberto Arduini, believes that «the opening of a research centre all devoted to Tolkien studies is a very important project, based on the model of many English and American colleges, and will create a brand new cultural hub for Tolkien-based activities. Bologna and Dozza will hopefully become the first places to visit in Italy for Tolkien scholars and fans».
The inauguration of this promising “Tolkien Centre” is planned to take place during FantastikA next edition (22nd/23rd September 2018), and will be marked by a great opening party!
Barbara Sanguineti / Giampaolo Canzonieri – Associazione Italiana Studi Tolkieniani