STREET ART IN THE CENTRE OF SICILY: FROM CALTAGIRONE TO AGRIGENTO
Seeing how old, abandoned and degraded places can come back to life is always a strong emotion. Urban regeneration can grow from many seeds, but the seed of street art reaches everyone’s heart. This contemporary art can be made by any means, on any surface. The only rule is that it must be public, belonging to everyone. Street art is at home in Sicily. This route starts in the centre of the island and arrives at the coast of Agrigento to discover the most important works. Ready to go?
We start in Caltgirone (CT). This place is known as the city of ceramics. We take time to admire the Baroque churches, the colourful majolica tiles and the Moorish heads hanging on the walls of the historic centre. We climb to the top of the famous Santa Maria del Monte staircase and arrive in the Sant’Agostino district. Here we will see the Moorish heads painted on the walls. These images were once called “mascheroni”. The paintings represent hands becoming fish and bearded giants. The whole neighbourhood is full of murals and graffiti. Let us move on to the Acquanova district. The Caltagirone artist Ligama has created a work entitled Sorgente to introduce a street art itinerary running from the neighbourhood to the centre. The work represents a woman with Mediterranean features addressing the Maghreb. It depicts an act of welcoming people from the desert; the woman offers water from the vase she is holding. The water is very realistic: it seems it is falling in the courtyard (at some point, you might even realise you are thirsty). Before leaving, we go to Via Paradiso to admire the Fiore di Fiorenza‘s dreamlike nature by Nettuno.
We set off north, heading towards Enna. We reach Porta Pisciotto. It is one of the city gates and the gateway to the historic centre. Here, street art has developed thanks to the WOL Public Art project, which aims to revalorise the walls, pillars and bridges through the power of art. The themes of WOL focus on doors’ metaphoric meaning: opening, welcoming, inclusion, travel, and separation. Here we will see the works of five international artists: Corn79, MrFijodor, Ale Senso, Poki and Crazyone. We can also see artworks by the WOL project in nearby Calascibetta, in Via Maddalena. In this town, WOL gave space to the works of Sicilian artists (Anc, Ligama, di Grado). We see a series of splendid pieces. In the first one, a little girl represents the future and touches a tree with her hand. The tree conveys her vital energy. Then there is the representation of a woman holding a glass bell. A colourful flower is painted inside the glass. The flower represents Mother Nature being freed and protected. Then we look at the portrait of a giant fox immersed in a mystical and synergistic nature. The image reminds us that we must have respect for the environment we live in.
Let’s now move from the centre of Sicily, south-westwards, to Caltanissetta. Not far from the historic centre, there is a Street Art Gallery called Eclettica. The artists who have created the works are Gué, I mangiatori di patate, Crazyone, Rosk & Loste, Mr Sems and Nemo’s. Let’s go now to the Provvidenza district. We admire the homonymous mural created by Igor Scalisi Palminteri. Depicted on the wall, we see a big blue heart beating on the neighbourhood ruins. It represents the heart of the city. A multitude of little birds appears between the ruined buildings. Each bird has a name (“gift”, “care”, “change”) and takes care of this pulsating blue heart.
We descend towards the southwest and enter the Agrigento area. The two towns of Grotte and Castrofilippo are just a few kilometres from each other. Both are home to numerous works of street art. In a short break, we will enjoy the colourful spaces immersed in the peacefulness of the two villages.
Continuing for a few kilometres, we will arrive at the place symbolising urban regeneration through contemporary art: FARM Cultural Park in Favara. Since 2010, a whole neighbourhood in the historic centre of Favara has become a contemporary art gallery. Over the years, this place has attracted projects and artists from all over the world. Seven forgotten and abandoned courtyards are now among the most famous artistic spaces on the planet.
We drive to Agrigento and pass by Via Vallicaldi. Murals have given colour to “non-places” that have been decaying for years. We enter the Fontanelle district. The Anna Frank Comprehensive Institute, with the participation of Ligama, organised a workshop and created a marvellous story in pictures. The work develops into three sections: each part is dedicated to a school building in the neighbourhood. A fourth work can be admired in an inclusive play area, a place also accessible to children with disabilities.
We end our journey by descending toward Licata, Rosa Balistreri‘s birthplace. We visit the Marina district. It was here that Italy’s first singer-songwriter was born and lived as a young woman. Among narrow streets with a Mediterranean flavour and the smell of salt, we can see a host of works. We admire the portrait dedicated to Rosa by Vlady, the Madonna Matrioska by Gubrin and U purpu licatisi by Pao.