Painting the Town

In Italy you can get a day off work when it’s your town’s patron saint’s day. Since different patron saints have different days off one might find the post office (or any other public office) closed as I did the other week at Coreglia and a little notice scrawled on the door to the effect that the doors are shut due to patron saint.

Yesterday was Ghivizzano’s patron saint’s day – in fact, saints’, since there are two of them protecting the hill town: Peter and Paul.

I joined the choir for the solemn mass in the evening, which seemed strangely still and obfuscated – several members also noted this and said this was the sort of atmosphere that often precedes earthquakes. Anyway, unlike the wedding last week, no earthquake hit us and after the service the bells were ringing, people were dancing, the drinks were flowing and the cakes were being sliced out in the town square below.

The doors were also open to an exhibition of extempore art. Throughout the summer there are various painting competitions in my area where amateur artists can enrol and turn up with their tubes and canvases, paint on the spot and submit their efforts to a jury who will judge the best results and offer appropriate (usually cash) prizes.

In Bagni di Lucca my wife has been entering this competition for the past seven years. Although she has not been selected yet as a prize-receiver it is the spirit of the event that counts and it is all good fun.

I found the entrants at the Ghivizzano competition (and displayed at the exhibition) interesting and, in some instances, genial. (PS Ghivizzano looks like this:)


The variety of stylistic approaches was quite astonishing. Anyway, here are pictures of all the entries. (I can’t remember which ones got first, second and third prizes – judge for yourselves!)

I felt also that, in some respects, Ghivizzano had the edge on Bagni di Lucca as far as painting subject is concerned: the streets of Ghivizzano, its diversity of monuments and courtyards had more variety that the beautiful but sometimes limiting views of Ponte a Serraglio at Bagni di Lucca. Perhaps a greater assortment of subjects should be included in the Bagni competition – even extending it into Villa to capture as yet unpainted corners and buildings.

Anyway, it’s only a short time to wait for that competition which will take place this year on Sunday, July 14th in the giardino della Villa Fiori at Ponte Serraglio, so get your paint-brushes ready!


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