"Italy asked me to represent it at the opening ceremony of the Frankfurt Book Fair, but because I dared to criticize the Minister of Defense, my speech was canceled."
To tell the background and his interpretation of the facts is the physicist Carlo Rovelli, who in his speech on the stage of the concert of the first of May in Rome had spoken of a possible escalation in the war in Ukraine attacking, although without naming him, the minister Guido Crosetto.
Rovelli announces on Facebook the letter received from Ricardo Franco Levi, extraordinary government commissioner for the Buchmesse 2024 that will see Italy as a guest of honor.
"The clamor, the echo, the reactions that followed his speech at the concert of May 1 lead me to think, give me, indeed, the almost certainty, that his lesson that I had so strongly imagined and wanted for the inauguration ceremony of the Buchmesse with Italy Guest of Honor would become an opportunity not to savor, guided by his words, the fascination of research and to cast a glance at the boundaries of knowledge, but, instead, to relive controversies and attacks", reads the letter.
"What more than anything else I feel the duty to avoid - and I take all of this, personal responsibility - is that an occasion of celebration and also of just national pride, turns into a source of embarrassment for those who will represent Italy that day. And I do not hide the hope that our country will be represented at the highest institutional level", Levi writes.
"I am inclined to think that you first imagined the scenarios that your words would have opened. This does not, of course, mitigate the weight of this letter. Letter that I never wanted to write.
I hope, at least, that he can help me not to lose his friendship", concludes the commissioner, hoping to "soon be able to read a new book" by Rovelli and maybe meet him "in person".
His speech at the concert on May 1
The physicist Rovelli, who teaches in France at the University of Aix-Marseille and deals with the theory of loop quantum gravity, has written several popular science books, including Seven short lessons in physics, an international bestseller translated into 41 languages that has sold over a million copies. His latest book is White Holes.