Passion In the Pit, Italian Style

By Ola Mazzuca

The word of the month is contrast.

Living in Italy, studying journalism abroad and adapting to new surroundings evokes contrast. Who knew it would be so difficult to compose a feature article for a program in another country? It’s not like you can walk to Yonge and Dundas Square, do a streeter, get some quotes and hurry on back to class for a 6 p.m. deadline.

The reality is a trek up and down hills, cobblestone or flat, to and from class, in humidity or a breeze. You can’t pack light – no journalist can. You always have to be prepared for a magical moment when someone says or does something incredibly powerful to assist in the production of a well-written story.

Italians are not Canadians and Canadians are not Italians. As I consider myself Canadian-Italian, I have come to realize that its still not a “mezzo e mezzo” situation.

I have realized that despite all of the European values that I learned throughout my childhood, some are slightly off from what I have experienced in the personalities of others. Maybe I’m wrong or mislead, as my parents are from the southern regions of Calabria and Puglia, places still awaiting my visit.

If there is one value people from vast lands across oceans share, it’s a love for music. Young or old, black or white, everyone in this country has expressed such strong adoration for the genres they love and rely on for spiritual support and a soundtrack to their soul.

In Urbino, Festa Dello Studente is held annually to celebrate the end of the semester for University of Urbino students. It is a music festival held over three nights at the Fortezza Albornoz, a huge hill overlooking the Palazzo Ducale and Renaissance city. From hip-hop to reggae, heavy metal to ska/funk fusion, people from all subcultures and majors come to listen to a blend of sounds, all accepted for who they are rather than shunned for their hairstyle or showing up in heels.

Festivals are a place of connection and my experience meeting a record vendor who is close friends with Steve Sylvester, the lead vocalist of Pesaro based horror metal band Death SS, “put beer in the stein”. He sold me a copy of Black Mass, the band’s sophomore release in all its primitive glory.

Italians are also enamored with North American rock music, where local group Echotime conveyed this through endless, energetic covers of “The Final Countdown” and “Sweet Child Of Mine” as the audience turned into one solid moshpit, crowd surfing and all.

As I arrived in Bologna, an ancient urban city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, graffiti and subculture was exposed like no other in the home of the oldest university in the world, an abundance of politically charged street art against the Berlusconi system covering walls and libraries filled with science textbooks.

At Piazza Maggiore, a main square and tourist hub of Bologna, people gather around the Fountain of Neptune and 13th century architecture. Amongst a colourful crowd, I encountered two traveling nomads from Russia, one clad in a Motorhead t-shirt. Of course my father had to point that out to me, and as he was rather loud in doing so, the young man turned around to say “You like Motorhead?” and thus a conversation on favourite albums and bands began.

I passed along my business card, with contact info and webzine links, in hopes of spreading written reflections of my love for music around the world to inspire international movements of passion in the pit.

Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.