In the province of Salerno, there is a tiny hamlet that has recently become famous as the village of murals. Piano Vetrale is a Cilento jewel seemingly anonymous. However, the explosion of urban art at every corner has brought to light the beauty of this small hamlet making it an unmissable tourist destination for those who love to find unusual places.
Piano Vetrale is a hamlet of Orria, a small town in Salerno. It is a typical village of the Cilento hinterland, cosy and hospitable, inhabited by just over 250 people. Its urban structure remains unchanged, stuck in the past, characterized by a network of countless and inaccessible alleys, all connected by extended arches. All the narrow streets have cobblestone pavement, which reveals the ancient origins of this jewel in Cilento. Among the historical testimonies of Piano Vetrale, it is worth visiting the ancient Church of Sant'Elia Profeta.
The Church of Sant'Elia Profeta
Piano Vetrale houses a thousand-year-old church dedicated to the patron saint of fire and rain. Recently restored, the Church of Sant'Elia Profeta was built around the year 1000 by the Basilian monks and was originally a place of worship for the three villages of Aria, Vetrale and Piano. Every July 20, the patron is celebrated with a great feast: in ancient times, the inhabitants prayed to him during periods of drought, but also to remedy other natural disasters such as earthquakes, epidemics and wars. Anyway, Piano Vetrale attracts many tourists today for a particular initiative that made it an open-air museum.
At the end of the 1970s, the Sicilian artist Pino Crisanti had the intuition to adorn Pian Vetrale walls, facades and doors with pictorial representations of daily life chronicles. In particular, it was decided to embellish the village with Murals. Crisanti’s suggestion was welcomed enthusiastically by the Cultural Association named after Paolo de Matteis. He was an illustrious fellow countryman artist, and the association is aimed at commemorating his creative flair. The citizens have always been very attached to the figure of the great master born here in 1662, so much so that they commemorated it by painting his face in a black and white mural.
The murals of Piano Vetrale
From the end of the 1970s to the present day, Piano Vetrale has been embellished with an increasing number of murals, long considered a new form of urban regeneration. You can see enchanting works by wandering through its narrow streets. To date, the murals of Piano Vetrale are preserved as a heritage like the natural environment. Not surprisingly, the oldest works began to be restored recently. Moreover, every July, there is a contemporary art exhibition called Il Pennello d'Oro (the Golden brush) articulated in different sections, including sculpture and photography. Over the years, many artists from all over the world have realized the several Murals of Piano Vetrale. Precisely for this reason, walking through this Cilento village, you can observe different styles, techniques and narrative strands. The Neapolitan school, for example, focuses on realism and depicts scenes of rural tradition as well as references to respect for the environment. On the other hand, the Sicilian school adopts the themes of the classic myths and an engaging explosion of colours. There are also more fanciful representations, such as fairy-tale characters with dreamlike traits, typical of the Franco-Provençal school.
Art does not reproduce what is visible but makes visible what is not always so.
What are murals
The murals are born as a form of urban art, but it is necessary to distinguish them from the technical and content point of view from the other representations of this genre. Works of street art such as graffiti, for example, primarily represent writings, signatures and, more generally, explosions of imagination of artists. On the other hand, the murals are paintings on walls of private and public buildings, therefore considered a complete artistic representation. Generally, they tell a story or pursue causes of social struggles, denouncing hardships and abuses of the community. Not surprisingly, this art form has origins dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century, following the troubled years of the revolutions that have marked many European and non-European states.
From the beginning to today
In particular, the cultural phenomenon of murals was born in Mexico, where artists such as Diego Rivera used this technique to express political and social messages. For Mexican artists, the murals represented a new way of communicating with the people, convinced that art should become a means of communication at the latter's service. At first, the unique artistic expression allowed artists to work on commission and suitably prepared spaces. Subsequently, it spread gradually in the neighbouring United States and reached worldwide, even if turned into a poor, anonymous and provocative art favouring collective composition. In more recent times, murals have become a fundamental form of reclaiming urban spaces to use the art for direct and immediate mass communicative fruition.