Cibiana di Cadore

When street art rescues history

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
Cibiana di Cadore, when street art rescues history — Veneto Secrets

When it is said that art will save the world. Surely street art has already saved the suburbs of the largest cities from oblivion and degradation and, in the case of Cibiana, also the precious traditions of a people.

The advertising campaigns of many fashion brands have certainly contributed to bringing Street Art to the Olympus of the Arts, such as the one for spring/summer 2018 created by Gucci in collaboration with the Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal.

His marvelous dreamlike images covered temporary Art Walls in the great international metropolises, from New York to Milan, consecrating the mural inspired by the couple in the famous 1434 painting by Jan van Eyck, “Portrait of the Arnolfini spouses”, one of the most appreciated and photographed in the world.

Cibiana di Cadore, when street art rescues history — Veneto Secrets
Cibiana di Cadore, when street art rescues history — Veneto Secrets

In Veneto, one of the most successful examples of street art at the service of history is certainly represented by the modern fairy tale of Cibiana di Cadore, a village of a few hundred souls in the Belluno Dolomites, once famous for its flourishing iron industry and in particular for the production of keys, which risked depopulation in favor of a recent emigration to Germany. To counteract the phenomenon, in 1980 Osvaldo Da Col, then director of the Pro Loco of Cibiana and the famous artist Vito Calabrò, supported by the mayor of the time Eusebio Zandanel, had the brilliant idea of reviving the town by giving voice to the art of street fresco.

So emerging and famous artists from all over the world have been called to decorate the tabià (typical wooden buildings), as well as the walls and the shops of the village with the mission of recovering its history, traditions, crafts, but also the ancient mountain legends, and turn them into “painted words”.

Cibiana di Cadore, when street art rescues history — Veneto Secrets

Today there are over 60 murals that adorn Cibiana and the circular walk to admire them – that winds through the hamlet of Masariè, Cibiana di Sotto and Pianezze – is one of the most romantic and evocative attractions that the Veneto Dolomites can offer. The beauty of the murals will enchant you thanks to the charm of this village that seems frozen in how it must have appeared at the beginning of the century, and which gives us moments of pure poetry ripped apart just by the colors of the works painted on houses.

Among the most evocative works, we can mention “La Vecia e l’Alviano” by Walter Pregnolato which recounts an epic episode in Venetian history that made Cibiana famous: in fact, in 1508, the troops of the Serenissima Republic of Venice, led by Bartolomeo d’Alviano, here attacked and defeated the Emperor Maximilian I of Austria attempting the conquest of Venice at the head of the League of Cambrai. Another remarkable work is “The Emigrant” by the Iranian artist Nader Khaleghpour portraiting a beautiful upside-down white horse suspended between the deep blue of the fresco and the clear blue of the mountain sky.

Or how not to dream in front of “La Storia de l’Anguana” by Geoffrey Humphries, an English painter who lives in Venice, which depicts an anguana, a water nymph, a mysterious and fascinating creature that is part of Cadore folklore, or to the poetry of the Chilean artist Mario Tapia who painted the work “Al Forno” by creating a trompe-l’œil on the windows of a typical local house?

Cibiana di Cadore, when street art rescues history — Veneto Secrets

And if after the walk you get hungry, about 20 minutes away on the road, you can stop and try the traditional Cadore dishes in Vodo di Cadore at the Al Capriolo restaurant.

Will art save us? Definitely yes, according to the encouraging development that Cibiana is having thanks to street art and the growing use of this art form by institutions from all over the world as a powerful tool for urban redevelopment.

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