Small Town Dilemma
The Riviera is a resort in northwestern Italy. On the western end of the Riviera, on the hills facing the Mediterranean Sea, is an ancient town called Valoria. The scenery of this ancient town is charming and idyllic.
Although decades of large-scale tourism have not wreaked havoc on Valoria, it has not escaped the same fate as other ancient towns: a large influx of young people from their hometowns into the bustling city. Angelo Berstra is one of them. He later settled in Milan, working in advertising.
A weekend trip to his hometown to visit his mother worried him. “My heart is broken by the situation in my hometown,” he said. “There used to be hundreds of people living in the town, but now there are only about 30 frail old people left. There are no shops here, and the houses are crumbling. Look at the old church. The rooftops, the dilapidated streets, the olive oil mills that still use traditional methods to extract oil… it’s all disheartening.”
In fact, Valoria is not the only town in decline in the region. The surrounding green hills are dotted with villages, all of which are medieval architectural relics. Every stone-built house and every slate-paved street here is struggling to make a living in a tourism-driven economy. “I think our history is dying” is what worries Bearstra most. So he decided to use his advertising to do something for his hometown.
A group of young people who love their hometown
In 1991, Berstra gathered several old classmates to form an action group to save their hometown, named “Sanquan”, which was named after one of the most representative landscapes in the town. Their goal is to raise funds to repair the infrastructure of the ancient town and build a small museum. The
first action was to organize a massive summer carnival. Accompanied by a melodious Italian melody “Gathering in Valoria”, the grand carnival kicked off one day in July 1992, and the carnival was a great success. “There were over a thousand people at the carnival, and we had to wake up the butcher in the neighbouring village to buy more beef barbecue for everyone to enjoy,” recalls Berstra.
Afterwards, the “Three Springs” group had a further action plan. They would hold more carnival activities and slogan to the outside world: “Valloria opens its arms, everyone welcomes visitors from afar.” The hospitality of the townsfolk – the affection. However, Bellstra said with regret when recalling: “Most old houses are either empty or have been used as warehouses.” Therefore, they decided to not only let the residents here open their homes in the next action, but also Give these facades to painters, let them paint on them, and turn the town into an open-air art gallery.
Door paintings bring life to the town Painting outside houses
in the countryside is a traditional Italian art. As a result, Valoria has become a “door painting” town in Italy, and it has regained its vitality. The difference is that most of the village paintings follow a theme, and here, the painter has full freedom to use his artistic imagination.
The first door painting activity was scheduled for the first weekend of July 1994. “Initially, it was just word of mouth,” says Berstra. “We invited not only local painters, but also painters from Milan and Turin.” In the
first year, the painters completed 18 doors He has created paintings ranging from Marcello Bonomi’s Madonna and Children to Rosario Curcio’s Trompic Paintings. In the picture, a red chair is suspended in a room covered with white tiles, and the strong contrast produces a wonderful three-dimensional effect. Professional illustrator Marco Scuto painted a portrait of a man in a suit hanging in the air, holding an umbrella in one hand and a pump in the other, similar to the magician in the American movie “Mary Poppins”. Mary Poppins, the nanny who can fly.
Fabrizio Riccardi, a painter from Turin, created another work that is well-known in the local area. He painted a nun peeking out through a window, covering her mouth with one hand and surprise in her eyes. on the windowsill in front of her was painted a pair of lizards, mating. Fabrizio’s work captures interesting moments in life, and the freedom to create here has attracted artists from as far afield as Switzerland, Germany, Ireland and the United States. There are many requests to come here to paint on the door.
Today, 122 of the doors have paintings on them, leaving few blank doors. “There are fewer and fewer doors available for painting, and only six or seven doors are offered each year,” Berstra said anxiously. “Last year we had 30 requests, but we could only — decline. ”
said Alexandra Bubo, a painter from Florence: “There is no pay to come here to paint, but it is a great honor to be able to participate in the rebirth of the ancient town.”
Macarena Croto is from New Hampshire, USA, she After seeing Valoria’s door paintings online, I got in touch with Berstra and was lucky enough to be invited.
”I had a wonderful time in Valoria ,” she said. “When I painted on the door, people from the town came to watch, especially the children.” Paper Cranes of Peace”, the picture shows a group of Japanese origami paper cranes that symbolize peace and good luck. She recalled: “We had so much fun at the carnival, and the next year I took my family and friends to visit the ancient town again.” This revisit to the old place surprised her, “I didn’t expect my work to become an interactive drawing board. Many people then drew paper cranes on it and signed their names.” It
is not only the door paintings that make the town famous, but the summer food festival held here every August is also the highlight of attracting tourists. “Every dish is cooked by the people in the town.” This is Bellstra’s female colleague Maria Biltolini, who is mainly responsible for the town’s external publicity. “The local young people served as hosts, and all night, they shuttled between the tables scattered on the hills under the olive trees, serving wine and serving food. Every dish on the menu was authentic local cuisine, even for the guests to enjoy. Wine and baijiu are also made by small local workshops in the mountains.”
Although the town’s reputation has grown significantly, some aspects remain the same. The resident population here has dropped from a few hundred at its peak to only 30 at its lowest, and now hovers around 40. Therefore, it is usually deserted here. Now many Valorians who have emigrated, because they are optimistic about the tourism resources here, come back to buy houses, and then renovate them and rent them out to tourists. Others come back to buy a house just to save themselves the summer.
“In the late 1990s, when I painted the door, there were only 30 old people living in the town,” Boo Bo said. “At that time, there were no jobs for young people in the town, so they left. People have returned to the old people’s side.” Berstra was among the settlers who returned to the town. “After retiring, I chose to leave Milan and settle down in my hometown,” he said with relief, “I’m really glad The original decision, now the hometown is really a livable paradise.”
Small Town Dilemma