ART AND NATURE. On Tuesday the 2nd I was finally liberated from my cast. I’d known it would be awhile before I could walk and cycle normally, but was really hoping that I would soon be able to drive. After a couple of days I gave it a try, and was happy and relieved to find that I could indeed do it. The Arte e Natura (Art and Nature) festival was the following weekend, and it was the one event I couldn’t bear to miss. It takes place in three tiny hamlets, Costalunga, Bocca di Serra, and Castelcies, that are nestled in the hills on the south side of the Valcavasia, in the comune (municipality) of Cavaso del Tomba. They are connected by winding little picturesque roads along which artists, artisans, and sculptors display and carry out their work, poets recite, and musicians perform. Several ristori (refreshment stops) offer grilled sausages, chops, and polenta, sandwiches, wine, cake, coffee, and more.
Artists and visitors alike love this festival not only for the beauty of its setting, but for the homey, genuine, and unpretentious atmosphere. Participation for the artists is gratis, and there are no competitions or prizes. All the locals–children, teenagers, adults, and old folks–pitch in with running it. Since I was able to drive and walk, I once again prepared a photo exhibit which I set up in front of Carmen’s house. Carmen, who passed on two years ago at the age of 94, was the heart and soul of Costalunga. She was a sweet and gentle soul, a tiny woman filled with energy, faith, and love for nature. I loved to hear her tell stories about her life, starting with her childhood during World War I, when she was saved from starvation by a little goat her family hid under the stairs, to keep it from being taken by the Austrian troops.
In the afternoon, a storm arrived, and the violent winds and driving rain sent everyone running for cover. Many of the artists packed up and left, which was unfortunate, because it cleared up and the crowds returned. Even without the displays, though, it was enjoyable to amble along the scenic festival route, and meet, chat, and share a bite with friends. I couldn’t resist and walked as far as Bocca di Serra, where I bought a book, drank a glass of wine, and ate a slice of chocolate crostata. At one point I was stopped by a woman who’d been looking for me, because she wanted to buy one of my photos. In addition, one of the artists loved the scene in another photo, and wanted to use it as the subject for a future work. She gave me a fine etching in exchange for my photo.
After that, I walked back to my car and drove to the church of San Martino for a folk music concert. A four-piece band dressed in old-time garb delighted the listeners with their renditions of traditional melodies, played on the guitar, dulcimer, flute, accordion, and bagpipes. A few couples began dancing in the little meadow behind the spectators; then as more people joined in, benches were moved to make room for them between the audience and the band. These were old-fashioned dances similar to square dances, and common to many cultures. Darkness came. The bright moon shone through the branches. Soft, golden light spilled from the windows of the tiny, ancient church, and onto the little meadow and the dancing figures. The air was filled with gentle, lively melodies and delighted laughter. Art, nature, spirit, and energy had combined to create an enchanted, timeless place, where technology, economic woes, and fears of terrorism and global warming were banished to the darkness beyond. There were only human beings dancing under the stars with pure, simple joy, just as our kind has always done.