Alessandro Baricco pursues to found a new Humanism in the new Holden

On the 7th of May, Alessandro Baricco presented the new Scuola Holden in Madrid. It is the first time the Italian school is promoted outside Italy

Baricco at La Central in Madrid

“When someone gets older must change”. With these words Baricco introduced the new Scuola Holden in Madrid to the audience of the bookshop La Central, after the press conference he has held in the Instituto Italiano de Cultura by midday. During an hour and a half, the Italian writer told the story of the reborn Holden.

Originally, the Caserma Cavalli —the new space the school will embody— was an old military quarter distributed in four wings around an inner courtyard. The building was abandoned by the soldiers and then replaced by an army of rats and a more civilian group of homeless. Thanks to the investment of the Feltrinelli group, the whole building will now become a “writers’ laboratory”, which will host around 400 students from the 8th of October on.

Baricco explains the two fundamental characteristics of the Holden reborn. The first one relies on the international projection. “We will now receive students from Italy, Europe and all over the world and the courses will be both in English and Italian”. The second one takes up the workshop model of the Renaissance. “This means working with the maestro in order to see how he or she works. It also means learning by doing”.  In the courtyard of the new Holden has been built a path resembling the former cloister of monks where students could walk. “Walking is another way of teaching and discussing”.

Along with these two characteristics, there is a third one comprising the new school’s concern: Storytelling and performing arts. Hence, Holden’s programmes will be disseminated in six different “colleges”.

1. Scrivere. It will be absolutely focused on the domain of writing, on learning how to write properly, professionally.

2. Acting. It is not only an actors’ studio. It is also a school where all the disciplines concerning theatre are learned. “This school compels actors to take writing lessons. If an actor does not know in depth theatre writing, he or she will not know either how to act.”

3. Cinema. “The best cinema directors in Italy have no idea how to teach. They have no time in the meantime of two movies.” Therefore, the new Scuola Holden has joined forces with the London Film School in terms of teachers and methodologies. “We have enriched this support with what we know how to teach: scriptwriting.”

4. Real World. This college could be also called “Journalism”. However, they have decided to name it differently because of the need of going back to facts. “When it comes down to getting to know the world, we need someone to touch facts. I hope the students of this programme will be scarcely in the college as they shall be touching the facts out there in order to come back and tell them”.

5. Series. Out of the need of creating a European model of series, TV shows, cartoons and video games, Baricco affirms that this specific technique must be learned. “These students might not create a story in their entire life, but they will be magicians of pure technique.”

Alessandro Baricco and his Holden team with Germán Solís and Mariana Torres from Escuela de Escritores

6. Crossmedia. This college works on the aim of creating a story and being able to tell it throughout all media. “Americans know very well how to do this. For example, Obama is a story. A black man that has studied. A good character that wants to return the US to its power. He always would start a speech by telling a story: ‘the other day when I was walking down the street… An old lady from my neighbourhood…’ While he was telling these stories not even one media was missing. He knows how to use the network”. What concerns this course is not creating a story as much as make it circulate around the blood system of the world.

Throughout the new Scuola Holden, Baricco also pursues to re-found a Humanism from the 21th century. “Sarebbe bello”.

In bocca al lupo to the Holden reborn tour!


Applications will be available on All candidates shall take two admissions tests: one in Italian and the other one in English. For non Italian speakers students, Holden offers a free Italian course as a training for the admission test.