Naria Chiara Cantucci: Life on stage

Story by Jennifer D. Wilkes

Naria Chiara Cantucci is currently living her life on stage, and she’s ready to take a bow.

In Italy, a “stage” refers to an unpaid internship that allows students to prepare for a job.  Every morning for the past four months, Naria has been working on her fourth stage at the Cagli, Italy, City Hall. For this stage, Naria is organizing an art exhibit that will be held in Cagli for artist Mirko Basaldella.

As she moves from desk to desk, each minute seems to hold a deadline. In the afternoons, she works as an unpaid secretary in her hometown of Fermignano, which is north of Cagli.

While Naria is happy to gain the experience, she says, “it’s not right to work more than a year and not get paid.”

At the moment, 28-year-old Naria wants to find a job. With two degrees in art history, Naria continues to search for a light at the end of her extended staging journey. “In Italy it’s difficult to find a job, especially in this field,” she says.     

Naria’s interest in art history is what attracted her to the arts in Cagli, which prompted her to ask for the staging opportunity with the city. “I always liked things that bring history with you,” she says.  “Art always has history.” 

Since her father is a lawyer, Naria says it would be easy for her to be one, too, but she believes the career involves a lot of compromise between one’s life and family. Her mother is a housewife. Though Naria says that being a housewife is respectable, she wouldn’t want to stay home and spend all of her time only with children.  “It’s not enough for me,” she says as she swiftly gathers several stacks of paperwork. 

Naria is an only child, which she says is normal in Italy. She believes it’s difficult to have a large family, especially for women.  “A woman has to choose to work or take care of family,” she says. Naria says it can be impossible for a woman to get a job if she has a family because employers don’t want to pay for maternity and family leave. 

“I’m thinking about finding a job, not family,” she says. She pauses and stares at the layers of paper covering her desk.  A boyfriend is “not my first thought in the morning,” she adds. 

Though she doesn’t feel any pressure from her family about finding work, Naria still feels a bit behind schedule. “Such a shame for me. Twenty-eight, no job,” she says.

Naria learned English in school at age 11, but she admits she doesn’t use it much in Italy.  She doesn’t want to leave her country, but she says she would move anywhere for a job. Traveling could expand her chances to use her English and work. However, she’s not particularly interested in visiting the United States.  “Not in this moment,” Naria says as she talks and types simultaneously. 

“I love my country,” she says, taking a deep breath.  “I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world.” 
If her struggles to find a job continue, she is not against staying on the stage – as long as it leads to a chance at a paying job.

“I hope to find a job.  I don’t like to have a plan for future,” she says. “I just want to feel good with myself… We miss many things when you plan.”

Series of photos of Naria

Naria works on the art exhibition.

[Click image for slideshow]