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Poet and novelist honoured

Oliver Friggieri yesterday received the Al Merito della Repubblica Italiana award. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Oliver Friggieri yesterday received the Al Merito della Repubblica Italiana award. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Poet and novelist Oliver Friggieri was yesterday decorated with the Al Merito della Repubblica Italiana award for his research on cultural relations between Malta and Italy.

He received the award – which he described as “a surprise” – from Italian Ambassador Luigi Marras, on behalf of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

“The presentation of this award was a surprise. I was not expecting it,” Prof. Friggieri said.

“I dedicated a lot of my time for research on the Italian culture in Malta... I am glad that what I did, in terms of books and research about Malta and Italy, is recognised as something positive,” he said just before receiving the award, adding that the two countries were different in size but similar in culture.

“Italy is a special country for us because of our centuries-long ties. The Maltese have managed to bring together a Semitic tongue and a Latin culture: our culture is a synthesis of two large cultures” he said. Prof. Friggieri also took the occasion to thank our ancestors for maintaining and passing on the Maltese identity.

Former Presidents Eddie Fenech Adami and Ugo Mifsud Bonnici were among those present at the ceremony, which took place at the Italian Cultural Institute in St George’s Square, Valletta, presided over by President George Abela.

Born in Floriana in 1947, Prof. Friggieri studied at the Seminary and at the University where he graduated Bachelor of Arts in Maltese, Italian and Philosophy. He became professor in 1990.

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