The fairytale village, S.Angelo di Roccalvecce is a small hamlet in the province of Viterbo that will fascinate you with its original street art. Fairy tales and fantasy are the leitmotifs of this very special itinerary in a dreamlike dimension.
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
S.Angelo di Roccalvecce and the miracle of murals
In the enchanting, fairytale village of S. Angelo di Roccalvecce, a small, remote hamlet in the province of Viterbo, about an hour and a half from Rome, time seems to have stopped and crystallized in the atmosphere of a fairytale. And this is by no means a figure of speech, here in this small village fairy tales have contributed to the realization of a real miracle, namely that of saving S. Angelo di Roccalvecce from abandonment and decay. The village with just 100 inhabitants, all elderly, is isolated and poorly connected to the rest of the territory of Tuscia (the North area of Viterbo). So it was literally destined to become a "ghost town". The initiative, born from the idea of redeveloping the village to bring back tourists, work, and therefore rebirth, was the brainchild of Gianluca Chiovelli, president of the Cultural Association Associazione Culturale Arte e Spettacolo (ACAS). So in 2016 Chiovelli decided to set up ACAS, whose ambitious project was welcomed not only by residents but also by neighbouring towns that understood the importance of reviving the fortunes of a small, little-known, and now forgotten urban centre. The project is self-financed thanks to the ACAS association and the valuable contribution of the residents, including through dinners and events.
S. Angelo is therefore an authentic open-air museum where female street art is the main protagonist. Yes, female. ACAS President Chiovelli wanted to entrust this delicate and important task to a team of female street artists. Thanks to the romantic, creative, and generating vein of women, we now find ourselves in front of works of art enclosed between reality and a dreamlike dimension.
The project that transformed the village into a fairyland
The first of the murals, inaugurated on 27 November 2017 (i.e. 27.11.2017 and keep this date in mind because we will talk about it shortly), is located in the main square of the village, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, and is dedicated to the great masterpiece of the English writer Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland. Who among us does not remember the wonderful characters from the fairy tale? Who does not remember the absent-minded and abstruse Alice in her absurd speeches where everything is a metaphor for everything and where everything is the opposite of everything? And the White Rabbit with his watch in his hand and perpetually late? And it is precisely in the White Rabbit's clock depicted on one of the village houses that a symbol appears as if to seal and celebrate the start of this interesting and unusual project. The time is exactly 11:27, which is 27 as the day and 11 like the month, the month of November to remember the starting point on 27 November 2017, the moment from which everything magically originated. With good reason, we can say magically because the apparently simple and genuine idea of bringing beauty and color back to a village that has been "off" for years has constituted an incredible potential that has brought the spotlight back not only on S. Angelo but also on the surrounding villages. The village known as the "fairytale village" does not only deserve this title because of the spectacular murals it has created, but also because of the extraordinary fact that it has fulfilled the dream of bringing life back to a place that was in danger of losing it: just like in a fairytale with a happy ending, here the residents' dream is crowned and visitors are enchanted. Initially, the main core of the project consisted of only 12 murals and about the same number of artifacts including installations, sculptures, bas-reliefs, and mosaics all depicting fairy tales, fables, and fantasy characters. Today, 44 murals cover the houses of S. Angelo, in a dreamlike itinerary of about two hours through the streets of the village. Of course, the duration of your walk is variable: it depends on your pace but above all on your curiosity and desire to capture the smallest details of the individual works you come across.
An enchanted itinerary along the alleyways of S. Angelo
Fantasy characters that take adults back to their childhood days and delight children in this rainbow of shapes and colors masterfully combined by street artists who have given us authentic masterpieces. From Alice in Wonderland to Pinocchio, The Sword in the Stone, Peter Pan, The Little Prince, The Little Match Girl, The Ugly Duckling, Grimm's Gnomes, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Mowgli - The legend of the Jungle, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Around the World in 80 Days, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Thumbelina, The Fairies of Avalon, Puss in Boots, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Pencil Tree, Beauty and the Beast... These are just a few of the 44 "enchanted frescoes" that you can admire as you walk through the characteristic village with its magical atmosphere. If you meet someone local, don't hesitate to stop and ask them questions. They will be delighted to answer your curiosity to discover the history behind this open-air museum. They will also be happy to finally hear the sound of visitors' voices and laughter return to a village initially destined for silence. You can literally walk around with your head in a fairy tale, with your nose in the air, looking for your favorite fairy tale...
Let's give the floor to the artist..
We decided to interview one of the protagonists in order to get to the heart of this fantastic initiative. Stefania Capati, as well as being an expert chef in the Castle of Roccalvecce, is one of the artists who have taken part in the project to promote tourism in the village of S. Angelo di Roccalvecce.
What murals have you painted and what do they represent for you? I created three murals in Sant'Angelo: The Gnomes, The Children and the Trolls, and Santa Claus. In my opinion, these fairy tales represent the fantastic, hidden world, legends. I love the world of gnomes, fairies, elves and I love Christmas too. All this magic is contained in these three murals, a world hidden inside each of us because everyone, adults and children alike, basically like to believe and dream.
Is there a hidden meaning behind each representation in your murals, or is there a metaphor? I wanted to interpret these works in my own way, in a playful way but also full of joy, colorful and cheerful but without a real metaphor: the important thing is that looking at them a smile appears on the face of the observer.
How did you approach this initiative - I mean how did you find out about it - and why you have embraced it so enthusiastically? I live 5 km away from Sant'Angelo, so I learned about this wonderful project by word of mouth. I belong to an association, Ecomuseo della Tuscia, and we decided to help the ACAS association by financing a mural because we all really liked the art project and, since I have always painted and it is a passion I have had since I was a child, I stepped forward to do the work myself. The ACAS association enthusiastically accepted our help and this is how The Gnomes of the Brothers Grimm were born.
What do you expect from this initiative? The project has brought a lot of tourists and tourism means work for everyone, also in the neighboring villages. This is what I expected from this initiative and it has not disappointed my expectations.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into street art. Where can you find more of your work? I painted my first mural at the age of 16, then I continued to paint but pictures and drawings. Life has pushed me in another direction: I am a cook and I have written two cookery books where you can find my recipes and also drawings of humorous cartoons drawn and designed by me. My books are titled Oggi sposi, Manuale di cucina per giovani coppie and Sono io la più brava in cucina. Ricette speciali per cuoche normali. In addition, for more than a year I have been part of another street art project in the village where I live, Grotte S. Stefano, where there is a small open-air art gallery because we are painting the gas and water meters doors outside the houses. We have already painted more than 100 and we plan to do as many more: on each one we painted animals, landscapes, poems, cartoons and much more. We are various artists who have taken to heart this project, which is called Sportelli d'Autore (literally "art meters doors".
If you had to describe S. Angelo in a few words, how would you do it? Sant'Angelo is a village that should be taken as an example of how to revive a small town through Art. When you walk through the streets, you find yourself in front of these fairy-tale murals made by all-female artists, and the interesting thing is that in addition to children, it attracts a large adult audience because art is ageless. A must-see at least once in your life, a walk in the open air that makes you dream.