Campolo, a small village twelve kilometers from Grizzana Morandi, is at risk of depopulation, with hundreds of its buildings now abandoned. And this is taking place despite its enormous historical, landscape, and architectural importance, including the nearby Rocchetta Mattei fortress. But it’s by leveraging the cultural, architectural, employment, and social wealth of villages such as this that there’s a hope to breathe new life into the entire Tuscan-Emilian Apennines through a pioneering model that will be able to be replicated elsewhere. “Da Campolo l’arte si fa Scola” is a learning through art project being implemented by the Emilia-Romagna Region as part of a tender involving villages organized by Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan. One year in and the plan has received 20 million euros in funding. The work already under way, which will continue over the coming years, firstly involves the restoration of architectural heritage, with the aim of creating a network of socio-economic connections between the residential, cultural, tourism, and business worlds. Even the youngest residents will be able to get involved and leave their mark on the future of these mountain areas of Emilia-Romagna.
Even with eleven properties acquired or about to be acquired, architectural restoration therefore won’t be “the ultimate goal of the project,” says Cristina Ambrosini, head of the Department of Cultural Heritage with the Emilia-Romagna Region, at the release of the report on the first twelve months of work. Instead, it will be a vehicle through which to give life to ideas and initiatives focusing on the “intangible heritage of the area,” she continued – that is, leveraging its cultural traditions, craftsmanship, local construction techniques, and its most typical materials. The ultimate aim is to redevelop existing buildings as various types of housing units, with designs aimed primarily at families, young people, and those who move around for work. The underlying idea is to make Campolo a cooperative village, tailored to residents, tourists, workers, artists, and academics, who’ll be attracted here by places such as Casa delle Arti, just a stone’s throw from the Rocchetta Mattei fortress, which is also part of the project.
A portion of the funding has also been earmarked for the restoration of buildings with a purely cultural function, such as securing the unrestored section of Rocchetta Mattei and restoring the Palagio complex. This last property, not far from the fortress, will eventually house the School of Advanced Building and Restoration. Recognition of the value of the stonemason’s craft has led to the creation of a trade course, regarded as essential for guaranteeing continuity in local construction techniques and knowledge of sandstone engraving. At the upcoming Art City event, some of the works by students of the stonemasonry course (to end later this month) will be exhibited at Rocchetta Mattei. This year, the event will spill over to the Marano di Gaggio Montano elementary school and the local mental health center.
The roots of Campolo’s learning through art project are therefore firmly planted in ‘what already exists’,” says the Viale Aldo Moro councilor for culture, Mauro Felicori. It’s a way of highlighting ordinariness and everyday life, while combining tradition – including building traditions – with innovation and creativity.