Motorbike tour of the Fiumana D’Arte
Sicily is not only rich in archaeological parks and works from past centuries. Would you like to see something contemporary and surprising? Well, dress comfortably, because we are going to visit Fiumara d’arte, one of the largest and most evocative land art parks in Europe.
The works of art we are going to visit are located in different places, some of these areas are not easy to access, so if you like riding on two wheels, you’re golden! (The artworks can also be reached by car, but we suggest choosing a motorbike).
What is Fiumara d’arte? Its history began in 1982, thanks to the patron Antonio Presti who, in memory of his lost father, commissioned work to the sculptor Pietro Consagra. Presti donated to the community an enormous concrete sculpture 18 metres high. The artwork was placed in 1986 on the bed of the Fiumara di Tusa, in the Nebrodi Mountains, then it was announced that an open-air museum would be created right there. Over the years the Fiumara has been enriched with other works, commissioned by Presti and created by important sculptors such as Paolo Schiavocampo, Tano Festa, Pietro Dorazio, Antonio di Palma, Hidetoshi Nagasawa, Mauro Staccioli. After 25 years of legal battles over the placement of the works, in 2007 Fiumara d’arte was finally granted the right to protect and preserve the pieces, becoming a sculpture park recognised by the institutions.
Are you ready? Then warm up your engines: we’re off! Our motorbike tour begins at Villa Margi, a hamlet in the town of Reitano (ME). A stone’s throw from the beach, we find an enormous sculpture ( 18×18 metres ) entitled Monument to a Dead Poet. The work was created in 1989 by the artist Tano Festa to honour the death of another great artist, Francesco Lo Savio. The sculpture is an enormous blue concrete window. It looks out over the sea and is crossed by a black monolith. That’s why the unofficial name of the work of art is ‘Window on the Sea‘.
Once we have enjoyed the view framed by this magnificent sculpture, let’s get back on our bikes and head 20 km inland to the town of Mistretta. Here we find two works of art not far from each other: the Stanza di Barca d’oro and Il muro della vita. The first work was created in 1989 by the Japanese artist Hidetoshi Nagasawa. It is a room carved out of a mountain near the Romei River and covered with metal sheets. Inside there is the silhouette of a boat covered with golden leaves. Can you imagine it? Unfortunately, the cave is not accessible. This is indeed the concept of the work. The room will remain closed for a hundred years, with a door sealing it, according to the will of the artist himself, who wants this place to live only through “the mental energy of memory“.
The wall of life is on the road from Mistretta to Castel di Lucio. It is a work created by several Italian and international ceramists in 1991. The old retaining wall of the road was grey and anonymous, but several terracotta works set in the concrete gave it a new, more artistic look.
Let’s get back on the saddle and head for Castel di Lucio, 20 km from Mistretta. Here we can admire three works of art. The first is Arethusa, created in 1990 by the painters Pietro Dorazio and Graziano Marini. The assemblage of coloured pottery creates a graphic image on the façade of the town’s police barracks, bringing vibrancy to the architectural rigidity of military constructions.
Just two kilometres away, in the same municipality, there is the Labyrinth of Ariadne, a work created by the artist Italo Lanfredini in 1990. As its name suggests, it’s a red labyrinth where you can enter and get lost in its geometries. The meaning of the piece lies in the search for a way out. It represents the search for purity, towards a path of meditation and expiation. If you are claustrophobic or love photography, you can also appreciate the work from a distance and admire it from the tower of the village castle.
Just 5 km from the labyrinth, on the road between Castel di Lucio and Pettineo, there is the work “Una curva gettata alle spalle del tempo” (“A curve thrown behind time”) created in 1990 by Paolo Schiavocampo. The work is a site-specific piece placed close to a bend that connects the new main road to the old country road. Conceptually it combines the present and the past. The piece is made of concrete covered with iron and it has the shape of a sail moved by the wind.
Let’s continue towards Pettineo: here we find a work of art created by various artists. In 1990, Antonio Presti commissioned the painting of a kilometre of canvas. The painting was then divided up and distributed to the inhabitants of the village, transforming Pettineo into a sort of domestic museum. The deconstructed work is kept by citizens in their homes, but from time to time public exhibitions are organised. Cross your fingers! You may have the chance of seeing it.
Eighteen kilometres away from Pettineo, there’s Motta d’Affermo where we will discover the eighth of Fiumara’s eleven artistic projects. This piece is called Energia Mediterranea (Mediterranian Energy) and was created in 1990 by Antonio di Palma. The sculpture is horizontal and represents a blue concrete wave set in the mountains (between the Nebrodi and the Madonie), and it stands out against the blue background of the sea.
Heading north for 9 km towards the sea, we come to one of Fiumara’s most famous and impressive works, 38° Parallelo-Piramide, created by Mauro Staccioli in 2010. The sculpture is a 38-metre-high steel pyramid with a split that is lit during sunset. During the so-called ‘ Ritual of Light ‘ (which takes place only in some periods of the year), it is possible to enter the pyramid through a dark iron tube. This passage leads to the illuminated cavity of the sculpture.
Our journey through open-air contemporary art ends in Tusa, visiting the work that inspired Fiumana D’arte’s project. La materia poteva non esserci (The material might not be there) it’s the piece dedicated to Presti’s father. It is an 18-metre-high sculpture of abstract figures, realised by Pietro Consagra.