C.Ar.D plus Vigoleno: healthy remedy for the lifeless tourism and white cubes

Stefano Pirovano

Tourists visiting Italy are generally well aware of Tuscany, Umbria, or Marche. They are familiar with their beautiful hilly landscape, vineyards, castles and small villages, all connected by tiny and curvy roads that like veins bring oxygen around this huge muscular territory. But like most of the accessible natural beauties of this world, also these remarkable ones are affected by that quite common kind of sickness called tourism. It typically occurs during bank holidays, and in summertime, especially when the weather is sunny and the outdoor temperature is mild. When tourists come immediately their presence turns these places’ mesmerising quietness into a disturbing turbulence, even if it is exactly this ideal quietness what most of them are actually looking for.


But, as all those evolved human beings who are able to go beyond the idea of tourism certainly knows, one of the best qualities of Italy is its own variety, which basically means that there is always a better option available to a crowded, over-visited, and most of the time overpriced place, no matter how beautiful it is supposed to be.


It is the case, for instance, of the green hills located at the south of the city of Piacenza, also known as Colli Piacentini. Like in Tuscany, Umbria or Marche, here you will find beautiful villages, amazing cultural cites, nature, tasting food, charming castles, good wine and kind people, but with the difference that here you don’t have to negotiate the success of your visit with any noisy group of tourists or crowded ticket offices. And you will be free to move around according to your own interests and needs, by walk, car, public transports, or any other vehicle you may like, motorbikes included (and strongly recommended).


At this point you may think that you haven’t heard about it yet because those who know are keeping it secret. Yes, probably you’re right. But this time the initiates may have committed a capital sin – perhaps more than one. Effectively some of them, including art historian and collector Paolo Baldacci, invited 10 artists and 4 designers to contribute with their pieces to an exhibition involving 6 different locations spread between the towns of Pianello Val Tidone, Nibbiano, Agazzano and Piozzano. Among the artists there are some currently under the spotlights like Lucas Blalock and Nari Ward, and others that are to be discovered or re-discovered like Joe Fyte, Matt Keegan, Patricia Treib and the Italian duo Invernomuto. The 4 designers – Martine Bedin, Sergio Maria Calatroni, Matali Crasset and Giulio Iachetti – have been gathered together in a single place, a délabré farmstead near Piozzano, which is not that easy to reach without the help of a gps navigator, but that is the most charming location among those selected by the organisers of C.Ar.D, the not profit organisation which has been organising this immersive exhibition every other year since 2014 in this same area. So take you time, bring your best camera, and fell free to forget the white cube logic for a while.


The other capital sin that we were mentioning has been committed in Vigoleno, a small village connected to a castle, that is located just one hour by car from Agazzano. The sinful in this case is artist Amedeo Martegnani, who installed into the Oratory of Saint Mary, a small church from the XVIII century, an elegant and mysterious black wax sculpture representing a bed of vine fruits. It’s useless to google it, no web site or press release will tell you about this delicate and evocative presence. But if you have the occasion to go there don’t miss the original decorations of the Romanic Church of Saint George (XII cent), or to climb the main tower of the castle once owned by the Scotti family. Museum such as the Metropolitan in New York or the Victoria and Albert in London would pay a fortune for being able to exhibit such remarkable examples of Medieval works of art. And even if they had them, they wouldn’t be able to provide the social and natural context where they come from. But, again, please don’t tell it to the tourists if you don’t want them to come and spoil these hidden gem.

July 12, 2016