Paola Rubbi

On July 2, 2017, Paola Rubbi, the Director of our magazine, passed away. All of us at the Cavazza Institute and the editorial staff of Vedere Oltre would like to join in a tribute to her memory with the beautiful words of Alberto who, like us, has had the privilege of knowing her.
Alberto Borghi

The walls of the building on Via Castiglione, which has been for more than a century the home of the Institute for the Blind Francesco Cavazza, can be intimidating to those entering for the first time. The atmosphere is penetrating and ceremonious, particularly in those rare moments when in the long and high-ceilinged corridors there is no one but you. The many long shadows accompany you in silence as you enter into the very heart of the palace. This was my initial impression, the feeling I experienced, when, at barely over twenty years old, I first set foot in the Institution in 1996.

Paola Rubbi

Overwhelmed by emotion, perhaps in a moment of inattention, I lost my way to Vedere Oltre's editorial board meeting room. I hastily arrived on the first floor, where loud voices of youth unexpectedly rang into the corridors. I assumed that the vivacious hubbub came from students and I thought how quirky it was that, in the middle of the afternoon, some people could get so involved in a classroom. This thought quickly faded away as a sudden light illuminated the dark corridor instantly brightened by the people whose voices now filled in every available space. I noticed almost by chance that these children were blind, and I stood there frankly surprised and paralyzed by the feeling that I could be swept away by these kids' enthusiasm, and not only in a figurative sense.

As I was hurriedly thinking of a way to alert them of my presence, I suddenly found myself alone again in the corridor while the voices followed the swift steps down the stairs, seemingly oblivious to the presence of a passing guest. It was at that very moment that I realized that someone, from the other end of the corridor, had witnessed the whole scene. She was smiling, quite amused by the situation I thought. It was Paola Rubbi, and her smile mirrored her thoughts. Together we reached a room located on the top floor and there began my first meeting of Vedere Oltre's editorial board. I am not a journalist, in everyday life I am involved in another type of writing. Paola Rubbi was nevertheless a point of reference, a luminous presence that had always accompanied my experience as a young man watching regional news, wrapping them in positive undertones. In her role as director, she dispensed both guidance and quick-wittedness with that same firm but courteous attitude that I have learned to appreciate as a mere observer and reader. What needed to be done was properly done, but it seemed I attended the editorial board meetings primarily for the enjoyment of Paola's bright personality, for the multitude of words, suggestions and anecdotes she shared. Heated discussions took place on plenty of occasions over the appropriateness of a specific wording or expression relating to cultural and style choices, never behind the times.

Paola Rubbi

Paola Rubbi was also everything Bologna stands for. She was both a witness and a protagonist. Like all good people of Bologna, she was here and everywhere, because home is the place where it feels good to come back to when you have seen the world. Taking care of others helps you in the first place, informing them or telling about them to those who do not know them. Paola was our orchestra conductor, with that stick leaving trails of light in the eyes of all of us intent in listening to her, whether she told stories of a thousand moments of her Roman travels or her visits in her beloved Apennine, in newsrooms of newspapers and RAI or in the field.

Sometimes a phone would ring during a meeting of the editorial board and her face would tense, crossed by a mixed expression of annoyance and contempt, which switched to amazement when we pointed out that it was her phone ringing, abandoned at the bottom of her purse. She had mixed feelings about technology and often the most effective way of contacting her remained a message on the living room's answering machine. Like the classics she had loved throughout her studies, she was moderate but well rooted in reality. Paola is now like printed paper, paraphrasing what she loved to remark in our meetings: current as never before. An empty chair remains, but her gestures, her words, everything that she has given us, will be with us, safely, always. 

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