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Culture & Religion

MEETING of RIMINI/ A Free Abundance of Great Things

We often think of “free entry” in negative terms: there is no charge. The gratuitousness of the Meeting in Rimini does not represent a lack, but rather a fullness born from the passion of the human heart  

Turnstiles at the Meeting of RiminiTurnstiles at the Meeting of Rimini

Entry into the enormous conference center, where the Meeting for the Friendship Among Peoples is held, is free. Indeed, for each of the past 31 years that this extraordinary cultural festival has been held at the Italian seaside resort town of Rimini, entrance to the exhibits and talks has been free. We often think of “free entry” in negative terms: there is no charge, one does not pay; however, the gratuitousness of the Meeting in Rimini does not represent a lack, but rather a fullness.

Immediately upon arriving at the Fiera of Rimini, one can see that the turnstiles, with their rotating metal arms, have been disabled; the metal spokes all hang down to allow free passage into the gigantic space that is completely filled: with fascinating exhibits and lectures given in halls filled to capacity, with concerts and dramatic readings and theater performances and film presentations, with sporting events, with shops, with signs, with restaurants, and with thousands of people (800,000 visitors and 40,000 volunteers during the week-long annual event).

Each year the Meeting has a theme around which the exhibits and talks are built. This year’s theme was, “That nature which pushes us to desire great things is the heart,” and at the Meeting, there were eight large exhibits:

1) “A Use for Everyone. Each to His Work. Within the Crisis, Beyond the Crisis,” concerning the recent ongoing economic crisis;

2) “From One to Infinity. At the Heart of Mathematics,” created by the Euresis Association, an international group of scientists that has created many stunning exhibits for the Meeting in past years;

3) “Flannery O’Connor. A Limit with Infinite Measure,” concerning the life and work of the great 20th Century American author;

4) “At the End of the Road Someone Is Waiting For You. The Splendor of Hope in the Portico of Glory,” an art historical meditation on the beautiful arch at the pilgrimage destination of Compostela, in Spain;

5) “Stephen of Hungary. Founder of the State and Apostle to the Nations;”

6) “‘But I Put Forth on the High Seas’. Ulysses: When Dante Sang of the Stature of Man,” concerning a passage from Dante’s “Inferno”;

7) “A Heaven on Earth. The Samba of the Hill,” about the birth of the Brazilian dance in the favolas; 

8) “Gdansk 1980. Solidarnosc,” tracing the events that led to Polish independence from the Soviet Union.

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