Italian Sinologist Gabriella Bonino Photo: Courtesy of Gabriella Bonino
In the 13th century during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), Marco Polo, a Venetian merchant and traveler, traveled to the East on the ancient Silk Road and settled in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, East China, where he became a local official.
Eight hundred years later, another sinologist decided to travel from northern Italy to eastern China to experience and study his favorite culture. Gabriella Bonino, or Tang Yun, as she is called in China, who has lived in China for 35 years, considers herself the “Marco Polo of the New Age”.
“My goal is to give Italians a complete understanding of China. Italy is an ancient civilization, and so is China. However, as I see it, Italy’s understanding of China is deep, wide, and complete above the water surface. The understanding is very rare,” the Turin-based sinologist told the Global Times.
Build strong connections
Bonino first came to China in 1987 on a scholarship from a Chinese university. In the same year, he continued his studies at Beijing Language and Culture University and has been living in the Chinese capital ever since.
In addition to working as a television host for the past 20 years, Bonino spends much of his time researching classics such as Chinese history and collections of magical stories. Weird Tales and Confucian Stories from the Chinese Studio Better understanding of Chinese culture and society.
The Italian sinologist’s contact with China began long before his arrival in the country.
From Latin to ancient Greek, Bonino has always had a love of ancient languages, which led to his interest in Chinese. Bonino told the Global Times that he chose the Chinese title from his favorite classics. Three hundred tang poemsAn Anthology of Poems from the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
“My ‘Yun’ means cloud, and it comes from Li Bai’s poem ‘Early Departing from Baidi.’ he said.
As a student, Bonino once went on vacation to Paris. While visiting a local museum, he was completely taken in by the beauty of the Chinese porcelain on display.
After this meeting, his interest in China grew, eventually leading him to apply to study in the country.
While working in the media industry in Beijing, Bonino was fascinated by what he experienced running through the streets and alleys of China’s big cities and rural villages, witnessing the rapid changes that have taken place in China since reform and opening up. In 1978.
In Wenzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province, a pioneering area of reform and opening-up policies, Bonino met Zhang Huamei, a 19-year-old young woman who received the country’s first permit to operate a private industrial and commercial household. announced the policy. In rural areas, Bonino has seen the most recent growth in public transport, as infrastructure improvements have helped alleviate poverty in impoverished areas.
In order to dispel prejudices and show the real China that he saw with his own eyes every day, he compiled his actual experience of following China’s social and economic development and people’s life, and wrote a bilingual book in Sino-Italian. Chinese Journal of Modern Woman Marco PoloPublished in 2010.
In Ruian, Zhejiang Province, a man cooks sumian noodles, an intangible cultural heritage. Image: VCG
Focus on cultural heritage
“Although I started studying Chinese culture as a student, my perception of China while living in Europe was very different from my actual experience living and working in China,” Bonino notes.
China and Italy, two representatives of the ancient civilizations of the West and the East, were first connected hundreds of years ago by the Silk Road. In recent years, bilateral cooperation in fields such as culture and art has deepened. However, the question of how to give the Italian people a complete picture of China continues to haunt Bonino. Fortunately, two years ago, he set his sights on a new area called intangible cultural heritage.
The small town he set foot in is Ruian, Zhejiang Province. The 1,700-year-old village is small but has more than a hundred cultural heritages, starting with food and handicrafts that are still used by the local people today.
“Intangible cultural heritage is the closest thing to the people of a place. It’s something that people in a community have access to every day, it’s essential. It preserves the feelings and memories of local people,” Bonino said.
Song Dynasty (960-1279) woodblock motion printing from lacquer ware; from a stringed instrument thirty In Zhejiang province, Bonino has visited dozens of intangible heirs over the past two years to participate in local marionette plays. In early 2022, he published what he learned in Italy in a 100,000-word book 64 Ruian Intangible Cultural Heritage.
In early 2016, Bonino published a book in Italian about the Belt and Road Initiative, detailing its impact on China’s development.
“We are looking forward to the participation of experts and scientists from various fields [the Initiative] somehow, including me as a cultural scholar,” Bonino explained about this international platform when introducing his next book on the Maritime Silk Road.