Time to go out

We meet at 10.30 am in the square to welcome Franco Arminio, together with the students and teachers of the scientific high school and all the citizens who have accepted our invitation. It's pretty cold but it isn’t raining, and we’re already lucky enough. We don’t have to wait a long time for Franco, as he arrives in the square on time, after a short visit at the Parco delle Terme to see the artwork “Earth Cinema” by Anish Kapoor. He is a rural village expert (as he loves defining himself), so he never misses an opportunity to discover small villages. He has left early this morning from Bisaccia, the small town of about 3,800 inhabitants located in the province of Avellino, where he was born and lives. Franco Arminio has been travelling for years to talk about Italian inland and marginal areas like ours, from different perspectives; as a poet, writer, documentary maker, great expert and, above all, inhabitant of these areas. It is not the first time he has visited Latronico, as he had been invited on other occasions before, to speak during public events. But today, before listening to him, we will walk together along the stretch of the Sentiero Italia which crosses our town. The Sentiero Italia, which starts from Santa Teresa di Gallura and goes up to the border between Italy and Slovenia, is a hiking trail of over 6,000 km that joins Italy together "in a big hug, a walking journey into discovering the extraordinary landscapes that our country offers as soon as you leave paved roads" (Vincenzo Torti, President of CAI, the Italian alpine club). Opened in 1995 during Camminaitalia, a great event organised by the CAI, today the trail is getting again a great deal of attention by those who would like to revamp it. Thanks to our journey, we want to help bring the public attention back to this trail and make it known to people of every age who still don’t know about it. Today, Paolo Mele, project manager of the Matera - Basilicata 2019 Foundation and our contact person in such an important adventure as Ka art - will walk with us. We will travel along the stretch of Sentiero Italia that connects the inhabited centre of Latronico with Arenara. So, we leave from Piazza Umberto I and cross the Monastero neighbourhood, walking by the Church of the Madonna delle Grazie up to the Piazzetta dell'Indipendenza. Here we make a first stop to welcome everyone to a fairly silent place and listen to some of Franco Arminio’s poems from his own voice. Many of us grew up in this neighbourhood, which was characterised by very low car traffic in the 1970s and 1980s: we were children at that time and used to spend whole days outdoors to play more or less dangerous street games. Exploring this place now, on foot, means grasping its changes, not only because it is a December Friday morning, the schools are open and it's cold, so it would be highly unlikely to find children around, but also because most of the houses were abandoned and, for various reasons, the neighbourhood is now depopulated. We continue our journey, walk past the Chapel of San Vito and go up towards the pine wood, whose trees were planted by some citizens of Latronico in the 1920s. During Fascism, the pine wood hosted a summer camp where the children of the town could play games and other leisure activities. More recently, this place has meant a lot to Latronico’s inhabitants: during the summer, many people come here and spend entire afternoons among the trees, enjoying their shade and the café-restaurant. Today unfortunately, after many vicissitudes, this place is completely abandoned, and seeing it like that really hurts. That’s also why we decide to make a stop right here. Franco Arminio keeps reading his poems and inviting some of those present to translate them into their own dialect. According to Franco, this is a way to restore some dignity to varieties of the Italian language which, somewhere along the line, have started to be considered almost as something to be ashamed of. Our next stop is near the reservoir of the Difesella aqueduct, which gives us the opportunity to talk about the hydrogeological issue linked to Mount Alpi and the various hot and cold springs located there. Then, once we are at the crossroads for Pargo, we stop again. From here, we can admire Mount Alpi in all its majesty. To this mountain, and this landscape, Franco Arminio dedicates a poem and then invites us to sing a song. The improvised performance does not produce the desired effects but makes us smile, before continuing our walk. We choose the ring-shaped route and return to the square along the state road “104 Sapri-Ionio”. Along the way we talk pleasantly, before saying goodbye to go to lunch. Then, sit around the table with Franco Arminio, we enjoy the food and keep talking about villages, politics, what we should do to make these places lively again and give people some reasons more to stay there. After lunch, Franco tells us he would like to rest a little bit. We go to the Mula + Museum of Latronico, instead, where a public meeting is scheduled in the afternoon. In the meantime, our first guests, the students and teachers of the Academy of Fine Arts of L’Aquila and Stefania Crobe, begin to arrive. Tomorrow, all together, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of ArtePollino. At 6 pm, Franco Arminio is ready to talk about the "new mountain humanism" to the audience who came to listen to him. Among dialogues and poetry readings, an hour and a half goes by without anyone feeling tired. Franco is able to charm the audience with his thoughts, irony and intelligence. He is able to make us think and smile at the same time. He forces us to face and laugh at our pessimism, discouragement and resignation. He establishes a healthy relationship with the audience, which in the end makes everyone feel good and light, despite the complexity of the issues treated, especially if we think of what our villages risk becoming. But we can still do something, and today Franco has come here to remind us.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the ArtePollino association, which was established to carry out the “ArtePollino- Another South” project, commissioned by the Basilicata Region and the Ministries of Economic Development and Cultural Heritage and Activities, and included in the Sensi Contemporanei programme. That’s why we have decided to celebrate this important birthday by inviting all the people who, in one way or another, have followed our work and have been close to us. The Fine Arts Academies have a special place in the history of the association. With them, we have developed one of the projects we most care about: the ArtePollino Award. For three consecutive years (2014 - 2016), we were able to bring to the Park many students and teachers from different parts of Italy. Many project ideas and three permanent installations arose during the three editions. This morning, in Latronico’s square, there are Alessandra Carducci, Davide Laghese, Michela Del Conte and Silvia Impeciati, along with professors Franco Fiorillo and Carlo Nannicola. They left from L’Aquila yesterday, under the snow, to come here and celebrate in the way we like best: setting up a workshop with the involvement of school students and passers-by. "Urban Field Colors (UFC): shaping and modulating landscapes" is a workshop that the Academy has been carrying out for some time now. It involves the creation of artefacts, paintings and prints, using local soils. We choose the most suitable area in the square but, within half an hour, we must find shelter from the rain and look for an alternative solution. Fortunately, the mayor comes to our assistance and makes the council chamber available for us. Within minutes, the room is packed with intermediate and high school students. Seeing them is beautiful, all sitting around the worktables, bewitched by the words and the works made by the skilful hands of Silvia, Davide, Michela, Franco and Carlo. Some of them are invited to experiment with different techniques, while Alessandra captures on camera their looks and hands. We invite the students to try their hand at drawing, painting using soil mixed with gum arabic, or making prints using linoleum, engraved by the students of the Academy, and a proof press. The results are very satisfying, and, in the afternoon, Carlo will collect all the images in a document, which will be shown at the Mula + tomorrow morning for the visitors who want to see them. After the lunch break, we prepare for the round table scheduled in the afternoon. Andrea Topo has arrived from Rome. He saw ArtePollino taking its first steps and, over the years, has also become a dear friend. In 2008 - 2009, Andrea was part of the field team, a group of experts provided by the Ministries, who helped us give birth to ArtePollino and create the conditions so that the project could have a long life. Patrizia Minardi and Rossella Tarantino join us from Matera. For different reasons, both are familiar with the project and the association. Patrizia Minardi, who today is a regional manager and head of the Cultural and Tourist Systems Department, as well as International Cooperation, saw the ArtePollino project in its early stages. Rossella Tarantino, development and networking manager of the Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation, in 2008 she was a member of the Basilicata Region's public investment assessment group, which is the operational office that implemented the ArtePollino project. In 2008, as it will be highlighted by Andrea Topo in his speech, the Basilicata Region represented a virtuous model for the use of public funds within cultural development projects. In this context, “ArtePollino Another South” was a very innovative project which, on several occasions, was told and appreciated by operators from other European countries. Franco Fiorillo, professor at the Academy of Fine Arts of L'Aquila, is one of the speakers. The discussion is coordinated by Stefania Crobe, founder of SITI Laboratorio di immaginazione urbana e umana (urban and human imagination workshop). For three years, Stefania was part of the ArtePollino Award jury and later told the experience in her PhD thesis at the La Sapienza University of Rome. Thanks to the expertise acquired over many years of research and study, Stefania manages not only to encourage the speakers to talk about different topics - all related to "Making art and culture in inland areas" as well as to the relationship between art and landscape, national and European public investments, the involvement of inland areas during the 2019 celebrations for Matera European Capital of Culture and the regional laws aimed at fostering the culture sector - but above all she is able to illustrate them to the audience in a clear and non-fragmented way. The event ends with a toast made by the speakers and the audience together, to these ten years and those to come.