A cozy and timeless village, between land and sea, between Liguria and Tuscany. Montemarcello is a special place, of frayed and calibrated beauty, emphasized by public art that is grafted into everyday life

Beyond the Apuane carved out of marble, the mouth of the Magra and the hypnotic scan it draws, straight and colorful, Versilia. On this side, the sinuous Gulf of Poets with Portovenere that sparkles in the evening in the background. Under Tellaro; above - straddling Liguria and Tuscany , marking the marginalized borders of the lower Lunigiana - is outlined, perched around a fairytale square, Montemarcello , a magical village, (too) little known, a privileged point of view, enhanced by contemporary art.

What makes Montemarcello special

There is a point, when you go up from Ameglia towards Montemarcello, in the heart of the Montemarcello-Magra-Vara Natural Park, a precise point where, after several hairpin bends and a dense forest that releases wild scents and smell of earth, resin and salt, between flashes of dazzling sea that appears and disappears among the leaves, there is a special point where, unexpectedly, a double view opens up.

On the left, the Apuan Alps stand out majestically: they form an imperious setting for the beaches of Versilia that from the mouth of the Magra continue in a rectilinear sequence, with an intact Sixties charm, without interruption, as far as the eye can see, along the Tuscan coast. Below, it extends the Val di Magra which continues north, towards Emilia-Romagna, in the Lunigiana.

On the right, we can recognize Tino and Palmaria; in front of it stands Portovenere with its unmistakable Church of San Pietro overlooking the sea, from which the coves that draw the jagged yet soft profile of the Gulf of La Spezia wind, pearl of the Levante Ligure.

The Marrana, a environmental art project that unfolds in large park of a private villa open to the public on specific occasions. A way to share the contemporary art with everyone, a value added for the territory. 

La Marrana environmental art

Established in 1996 by the will of Grazia and Gianni Bolongaro with the aim of to raise awareness people to contemporary art, the La Marrana environmental art park, spread over just over 4 hectares, has 37 works made specifically for and above all in the evocative and panoramic open air spaces of their home in Montemarcello, transformed by artists from different generations and cultures, such as Jannis Kounellis, Jan Fabre, Ettore Spalletti , Kengiro Azuma, Luigi Mainolfi, Claudia Losi, Gabriella Benedini, as well as to Ottonella Mocellin and Nicola Pellegrini , Mario Airò and Vedovamazzei and many others.

The peculiarities

The one created is a special place, for reflection but also for meeting, outside the usual meeting spaces: not a gallery, not a museum space but a private house which opens to the public on specific occasions.

A place where artists are invited to create works specifically designed to dialogue with the locations they themselves choose. The interventions of environmental art have always been developed with particular attention to the relationship that is created between the work and the territory in from which they are grafted, from which they draw inspiration and at the same time modify. To these interventions are added exhibitions dedicated to great artists or emerging figures.

The history of the Marrana

In 1995 the new adventure beganexplains Gianni Bolongaro. “Me and my wife, whose grandfather was one of the most important Italian art collectors of the 1930s, d we decided to introduce the inhabitants of Montemarcello to the figure of Carlo Mattioli, from Parma, who also had a home in Montemarcello but which no one knew as an artist. The following year we replied with Fausto Melotti ; the large participation of journalists, curators and enthusiasts made us decide to switch to environmental art. Thus began the story of La Marrana.

Next year a video installation will be presented that will tell the story of the Marrana.

Art, architecture and urban interventions

Art, territory, villages but also cities. The P.A.A.L.M.A. La Marrana Arteambientale Artist + Architect Award was activated at the Triennale in Milan from 2008 to 2010 to promote urban interventions born from the collaboration between artist and architect right from the design phase.

Derivation of the award was the competition announcement for the redevelopment of piazza Verdi in La Spezia, won by the project presented by the couple formed by the artist Daniel Buren and by the architect Gianni Vannetti, who then together redesigned the ' current configuration of the city spaces.

The contemporary art is grafted onto the village

In continuity with the idea of ​​ to bring the experience of contemporary art to life by setting up the works in the village, not in closed spaces but in the midst of people, so that they can get close and share them in everyday life, p and the whole summer 2022 , until 18 September, the project Una Boccata d’Arte proposes a cultural itinerary, far from the most popular tourist circuits, to discover 20 Italian villages, one for each region, in which an artist has created a site specific intervention.

Read also: Una Boccata d’Arte: 20 artists, 20 villages, 20 regions

A close, authentic and fruitful encounter

Montemarcello was chosen for Liguria. Thanks to its intimate dimension and its timeless grace, the country, between land and sea, gives life to a close encounter - authentic - with contemporary art, made special by the surprising dialogue and fruitful exchange that is generated between territory and work of art - Dear Montemarcello by Alice Ronchi -, inhabitants and visitors.

Dear Montemarcello

Caro (Dear) Montemarcello involved the inhabitants in the story of the sense of community - and love - that pervades the village, through a participatory performance and a written in steel ( the word love , in fact) positioned on the portal of the defensive walls.

The art is a message, here it is of love

“My interest immediately turned to the intimate relationship between the person and the place, not so much on history or architecture, which I had previously studied, but on emotions, bonds and the whole emotional sphere linked to memories and to sensations” explains the artist Alice Ronchi.

“From the interviews with the inhabitants emerged contrasting images of the place all but united by a strong love for their country ; they talked about the village as if it were a person - from there my idea was born to ask him to write a letter or a thought addressed to him directly, in Montemarcello” concludes Alice.

“From the interviews with the inhabitants emerged contrasting images of the place all but united by a strong love for their country ; they talked about the village as if it were a person - from there my idea was born to ask him to write a letter or a thought addressed to him directly, in Montemarcello” concludes Alice.