‘Curious people are nomads, ναυται, explorers. They choose sirens, the depths of seduction, because the pleasure of the mind comes from dark shades’ (Maria Conti, ‘Il canto delle sirene’, Flaiano Prize 1990).
Maria travelled, too. She travelled by train, every morning and every evening, in the third-class coaches on the railway line connecting Milano and Chiari, where she worked as a teacher in the secondary school. A necessary and uncomfortable daily travel that inspired her beautiful work ‘Cantare nel buio’ (Singing in the dark, 1991). Then, she travelled south, to teach History of the Italian Language at the University of Salento and, after that, she travelled to Pavia, to teach and carry on with her researches. Maria Corti was also a member of the Accademia della Crusca, of the Accademia di Brera and of the Accademia dell’Arcadia. By following this Milanese critic, philologist and writer, we get to a ‘house in Val d’Intelvi, which borders with Pellio Inferiore, between Lake Como and Lake Lugano’. Here she came in summer, in order to find peace and beauty, with many students, friends and colleagues, such as Umberto Eco, Giovanni Spadolini, Cesare Segre, Maria Antonietta Grignani, Franco Loi, Antonio Porta, Angelo Stella and Silvia Isella. Afterwards, the house was bequeathed to the University of Pavia, and then bought by a group of friends that included poet Fabio Pusterla and philosopher Guenda Bernegger. ‘The new owners are a mix of nice people. They want to renew Maria’s memory and organise cultural activities for her same purpose: meeting’. The house is open to passing guests, scholars and creatives who wish to meet and develop ideas and projects of cooperation, or just enjoy the pre-Alpine beauty. Each year, in early September, a small crowd of friends, students, readers and colleagues pay tribute to the visionary intellectual, whose memory is still vivid among the rooms and gardens of the house.