Art and Culture from all over the world in Capalbio

Although this was a difficult place to inhabit in the past on account of its terrain and swamps, the Province of Grosseto can boast of an important heritage.

The county on the south, Capalbio, can share much evidence of this with many traces on its land, archaeological sites and medieval villages up to the modern magical experience of Giardino dei Tarocchi.

 

Capalbio, a millennial history

Valle d'Oro

The first Etruscan settlements in Capalbio can be found in an area known as Valle d’Oro, now known as Giardino, which was part of the Etruscan metropolis of Vulci whose territory spanned from Viterbo to Talamone and the first slopes of mount Amiata.

After the Romans took it over in 280 b.c. this area became part of the Ager Cosanus, the Roman colony of Cosa, whose remains can still be visited on the promontory of Ansedonia in the borough of Orbetello.

The extraordinary progress of this area starting from the Roman conquest is due to its geographical position in relation to the Tyrrhenian sea, the abundance of water and the relative closeness to Rome itself.

Many archaeological sites have been excavated, examined and studied over time, but for the most part, when the sites were not covered up again, what remains would need some form of intervention to restore them and make them safe.

Few but extremely interesting are therefore the sites accessible to tourists or archeology enthusiasts.

Etruscan Towers

On exiting the main state road Aurelia, along the Pedemontana road direction Giardino, one can easily spot the towered enclosure of the Roman villa Colonne, a magnificent structure that was inhabited between the first and second century b.c., a wine producing farm then, adapted over time to fulfil new purposes until it became, and still is now, a private home.

A few kilometres away you can find Villa Settefinestre, and perhaps both villas belonged to the Sesti family.

This villa, which also changed its production from wine making to wheat, is believed to have been abandoned at the end of the II century a.c. Today one can recognize the terrace with its the portico and the towered wall like the one of villa Colonne.

For other remains, we must go forward in time to the XII century and find the Castello di Tricosto, or Capalbiaccio, as it was known, at first property of the Abbey delle Tre Fontane di Roma, then of the Aldobrandeschi and later of the Orsini families.

The charm of Capalbio is mainly due to its medieval structure, still nearly all intact to these days so that it is possible even now to tread the patrol path along the wall enclosure.

The walls of Capalbio, in local stone, are built in the typical double circle with an internal ring, Mure Basse (Low Walls), of medieval construction, and an external ring, Mure Alte (High Walls), which date back to the Renaissance. They were erected to defend the village developed around the Rocca, whose tower looks down over the roofs of the homes and that is the most distinguishable feature of this landscape.

While walking along the path, just as the guards on patrol used to do, you can cast your eyes as far asthe border between Tuscany and Lazio, the sea, the lakes of Burano and San Floriano, Argentario at the same time enjoying the view of a well looked after for countryside.

Going through Porta Senese, on top of which you can see an engraved stone from 1418, in memory of the walls renovations, and the Medici’s heraldic shield from 1601, and climbing up the internal alleys you reach the Rocca Aldobrandesca and the adjacent Palazzo Collacchioni which contains frescos, antique furniture and the fortepiano Conrad Graf dated 1823, that was played by Giacomo Puccini who often visited Maremma.

Many art and crafts exhibitions are held in this building every year as part of a busy season of events. Cultural activities also take place in Piazza Magenta, varied and of substance given the importance of the chosen themes and participating guests of great resonance.

This is the main square and the symbol of the town, a medieval jewel, typical example of an enclosing square.

 

Art and Capalbio

Of the countless events that have contributed to the fame of the town, we could mention the cinema Festival of Capalbio, dedicated to short films, the Capalbio-Piazza Magenta Prize, yearly afforded to authors of yet unpublished writings selected from the fields of economy, philosophy, art and politics, by a quality jury, the prize Capalbio al Territorio, given to one of the categories of the people of Capalbio on a yearly basis as recognition for their contribution to making this place unique, Capalbio Libri as an occasion to talk about books in an innovative way where a book becomes a shared experience between the author and the reader, Capalbio Salute which is a shared platform aimed at gaining and giving scientific information on the delicate issue of personal health and the prevention of illnesses.

Capalbio Art and Culture

Walking down again from the top of the town, along the walls, we meet Saint Nicola’s church with its bell tower built in the Middle Ages.

Over time, it was subjected to some changes with the addition of new decorations, that, added to the original Roman structure, allow us to recognize the Gothic and Renaissance styles, whilst inside, there can be found frescos of the School of Siena from the XIV century, and the School of Umbria from the XV century.

As one leaves the church, the old town is a chase of alleys, stairs and little squares, sudden openings over the surrounding countryside, prestigious palaces, vaults and doorways, ornaments and stratified symbols.

Truly, a coffer of art and history. The wonders don’t stop out of the walls, for example in Provvidenza Square, where the homonymous oratory can be found.

At the end of the 18th century, on top of a chapel that was meant for worshipping a lost painting, they constructed the current building that contains interesting frescos dating back to the beginning of the XVI century and attributed to Pinturicchio or to his school.

 

Giardino dei Tarocchi

Usually, a visit to the town begins in Carlo Giordano Square, from where a breath taking view opens the horizons towards the south east, and where one of the most important treasures of Capalbio is kept: the Nanà of Niki De Saint Phalle a mosaic of glass from 1999 which connects to the more sensational Giardino dei Tarocchi.

The latter is in fact a park completed between 1979 and 1996, a real work of art, a complex and unique project realized to offer to all of us a spiritual and intimate journey, a sincere diary of the life of the French artist who died in 2002.

Giardino dei Tarocchi

This is one of the highest environmental art expressions, through which a human being attempts a reconciliation with nature outside the urban experience. The Garden can nonetheless be read in an urban key.

There is in fact an entrance door planned by the architect Mario Botta who with an imposing tuff wall has intended to divide the real world from the magic one, as well as a central square, a tower, crossings, arches; as a result, we cannot not think, its esoteric meaning aside, of the Giardino dei Tarocchi as if it were the town of Capalbio itself, portrayed and reinterpreted with the language of imagination.

The works, up to 15 m tall, represent the 22 main mysteries. La Papessa (the Woman Pope), la Ruota della Fortuna (the Wheel of Fortune) il Sole (the Sun) and all other cards are all there, made in iron structures covered by a net to create the skeleton which in turn is also covered by mirror mosaics, painted ceramics in different shapes, Murano’s glass.

It all contributes to sculptures able to generate great tension amidst an intense chromatic effect.

A reality such as the one of Capalbio, with its deep-rooted history, where art meets nature, can only be of inspiration to artists and craftsmen who got here from all corners of the world attracted by the charm of the place and welcomed by a sensitive environment that can perceive refined and original expressions.

It is possible to find artists busy in their ceramic workshops in the old town such as the American Paul Dunn just by walking along the streets, as well as in farmhouses in the countryside or nearby hamlets; you can meet a pop painter like Dedò or craftsmen intent on reviving old furniture or traditional farming objects, just like the artists of QART Capalbio or the designer Silvia Franci who gave life to the “IL COLLETTIVO”(a work group promoting artistic craftsmanship) with other artists and craftsmen in the area (photographers, graphic designers, mosaic artists, upholsterers, carpenters, ceramists and blacksmiths).

It’s also worth mentioning Ivano Bonucci who crafts valuable handmade knives, also using recycled metals, in the ancient way of Damascus.

A tangible symbol of the cultural turmoil that stirs Capalbio is the Associazione Culturale il Frantoio (the Oil Mill), that in its large and generous premises with industrial floors and high ceilings showing their ancient beams painted in white, organizes exhibitions and arts events since 2002 in a mix of past and present..

The group creates unexpected moments of confrontation and dialogue between established artists, even internationally known, and emerging ones, following a path that attempts to rediscover languages and means of expression- despite the diverse generations of poetsand the affinities in the individual research as a sign of an evolutionary continuity.

Capalbio in Maremma

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