Il Festival dei Denari

 The following videoclip is a final project by Matthew Parsons in a course offered by Corrado Confalonieri at Harvard University in the fall 2017 semester (Advanced Italian I: Oral Expression and Performance). It is an original story using tarot cards and inspired by Calvino’s Il castello dei destini incrociati.

Prof. Confalonieri has since refashioned the materials into a new course entitled “Castles of Cards: Italian Romance Epic Storytelling Lab.” The course description, reading list, and assignments are copied below.



“Castles of Cards: Italian Romance Epic Storytelling Lab.”  Prof. Corrado Confalonieri

Course Description

Celebrated authors of 20th-century Italian literature such as Italo Calvino and Gianni Celati have included in their works several features of Renaissance romance epic, from the importance of orality and the idea of sharing stories with a community of listeners to multi-threaded narratives and a playful attitude to the world of storytelling. The current popularity of fantasy literature and TV series puts us in an ideal position for the study of the chivalric romance and for an exploration of the continuities and the differences between past and present literary forms. In this course we focus on canonical and less canonical texts of the Italian Renaissance epic and their modern rewritings. After a multimedia investigation of Andrea da Barberino’s Guerrin Meschino, Luigi Pulci’s Morgante, Boiardo’s Inamoramento de Orlando, Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, and Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata along with their rewritings by authors such as Bufalino, Nori, Celati, Calvino, and Giuliani, we will take inspiration from Calvino’s Il castello dei destini incrociati to transform the classroom into a storytelling lab. The same deck of tarot cards that Calvino used for his book will help us to take part in a role-playing game and create a collaborative story that will gradually unfold throughout the semester. The class aims both at studying the Italian romance epic in order to reenact it creatively and also at using this collaborative rewriting as an interpretive tool to explore Renaissance literature from within.


I. Calvino, Il castello dei destini incrociati (Milan: Mondadori)
I. Calvino, “Orlando furioso” di Ludovico Ariosto (Milan: Mondadori)
P. Nori, Paolo Nori riscrive “Morgante” di Luigi Pulci (Milan: BUR) [excerpts in pdf, course reader]
G. Celati, L’Orlando innamorato raccontato in prosa (Turin: Einaudi) [excerpts in pdf, course reader]
G. Bufalino, Il Guerrin meschino: frammento di un’opra dei pupi (Milan: Bompiani) [excerpts in pdf, course reader]
A. Giuliani, “Gerusalemme liberata” di Torquato Tasso raccontata da A. Giuliani (Turin: Einaudi)[excerpts in pdf, course reader]

Examination and Assignments: active participation, oral presentations, short essays, and response papers.

Final project: completion or rewriting of part of the story that will be developed in class with the role-playing game together with a short critical reflection (300 words ca.).