mercoledì 13 giugno 2012

'Allo stato brado' in the Sibillini mountains (an interview with Mauro Viale)

Montanaro circle is fortunate to collaborate with some special individuals and organisations that capture the heart of Le Marche like no one else, one of these people is Mauro Viale of Statobrado. Mauro and his team have put together a stunning set of itineraries for Montanaro circle that include some of Le Marche's best off the beaten track destinations and unique packages that offer something different. The following includes a recent short interview with Mauro.

Q: Please introduce yourself
A: Hi My name is Mauro Viale I'm 36 years old and live in Recanati in the province of Macerata, the city where the poet Giacomo Leopardi was born. I'm a nature guide and Mountain Bike Instructor. From 2004 until 2010 I worked for a cooperative of "green-Tourism", environmental education and trekking. Now my organization "Statobrado" works in the organization of trekking, mountain biking and excursions in Marche. The meaning of Statobrado in Italian is someone who is completely free, without laws or conventionality, for example when you see horses running free on green hills in Italian we say: cavallo allo stato brado....!!!

Q: What do specialise in?
A: I specialise in walking, trekking or cycle trips. I like to organize excursions in the great outdoors. In Marche we are lucky to have every kind of landscape like high mountain, the Appennino, the hills, rivers, the rural landscape and the sea...

Mauro Viale of Statobrado

Common Sibillini scene in the springtime.
 Q: What is special about the Sibillini National Park?
A: The Sibillini....are our mountains. They have something special, magic, it's so hard to explain... When I go there I feel the Nature, and life itself. The landscape changes from zone to zone, there are high mountains like Dolomiti, "strette gole scavate" by the river, the animals like wolf, "caprioli", squirrels, deer and one bear named Ulisse! But one of the most important things the Sibillini contains is its history and the people who live there from the past. We can find many medieval churches, monasteries, full of art. Another aspect is the culture of farmers or Sheppards.
Casteluccio in the Sibillini National Park.

Q: What is your favorite walk?
A: My favorite walk is the walk that I have never done...(laughs). But seriously, I think the area around Castelluccio in every condition and season is speacial and unique, summer, spring, autumn and winter, with snow. I have been going there for 20 years, but I'm never tired of visiting this location. I find something new there every time, the flowers, the wind, the smell, the light...Castelluccio has caught me.
A view of the Sibillini mountains from San Ginesio.
Mauro Viale will lead a weeklong walking trek from 23-30 June through the Sibilini national park which follows the “sentiero dei Mietitori” medieval path used for centuries in the process of harvesting corn, and staying at mountain lodges along the way. This walk transports one to a distant world where nature has never been superseded by "development". A night will be spent a refuge in the abandoned village Colle at 1000 meters altitude near the Gole of Infernaccio, otherwise known as hell's gorge, famous for the mysterious and spectacular sights of the junction between the highest wall of the Mount Sibilla and Mount Priora. The walk will continue onto to Forca di Presta, the famed coloured fields of Castelluccio which have inspired countless photographers and are at their most tear-jerkingly beautiful in June.

For more information on this walk see
For more information on Statobrado see

domenica 3 giugno 2012

'Once upon a time' by Ben Craven.

Acclaimed mosaic artist Ben Craven exhibits 'Once upon a time' at the Palazzo Bonfranceschi in Belforte del Chienti (Le Marche).  

Last night we attended the launch of a very special exhibition in an appropriately atmospheric venue. The exhibition 'Once Upon a time' by Ben Craven was set in the International Dynamic Contemporary Art Museum (otherwise known as the Palazzo Bonfranceschi) in the breathtaking hilltop town of Belforte Del Chienti. British Ben Craven has spent almost a decade living in Le Marche with his young family amongst the rural community and farmers for whom the exhibition was dedicated.
The exhibition 'Once upon a time' by Ben Craven.

As neighbour's of Ben's we too have experienced the inherent values of the Marchegano people (tireless hospitality, kinship & kindness) representing an enduring traditional Italian community, we felt the exhibition captured the core of these people.

The exhibition cannot be said better than in the words of the (MIDAC) director Alfonso Caputo in 

'The portraits by Ben Craven are very tangible. They are heavy for the matter that composes them. They are heavy for the fullness and complexity of the lives portrayed. They are heavy for the stories they contain. They are signs of a non superficial passage among the things of the daily world. They are not just faces, but also and especially the dialogues that have been developed with these people.
A world made of earth and sweat, calluses and smiles, sunshine and fruits.

One of Ben's pieces that features in the exhibition.
Local dialects and far languages have merged into conversations made more by expressions, pauses and silences than by a frenetic stream of words. Maybe an egg or a glass of wine have done much more than a professional translator. Certainly, the smile is a passport that talks of the soul and of deep feeling.When mouth and eyes smile in unison, there cannot be a door that remains closed. Not even the most secret door. Which keep the old memories. Ben has transferred all of this in his mosaics, an ancient art but, as he shows us, still alive, as an act of gratitude for those who welcomed him without reservations and have made him one of them. It is to them that is dedicated this research. to their troubles, to their smiles, to their works, to their lives. And as in the ancient tales there could be no better start than the inherent in the title: “Once upon a time”.

Ben Craven at work cutting each individual piece for his Mosaic.
You have to admire the commitment and skill involved in mosaic making.
Listening, without haste, the passage of time that won’t be able to remove anything if the listener will preserve inside himself a small space dedicated to the magic of our land'.
Alfonso Caputo
Belforte del Chienti, June, 2012

Ben's work will be on display until June 25th so if you get the chance make sure you visit this very special exhibtion.  
Watch this space for more pictures of Ben's the exhibition launch.

sabato 19 maggio 2012

Montanaro circle features on SKY TV

VOGLIO VIVERE COSI (Trasmissione andata in onda il 17 Maggio 2012 CIELO canale 26 nel digitale terrestre)

Sky TV approached Montanaro Circle to interview Idries for their 'Voglio vivere cosi' (I want to live like this) programme which follows the lives of people who have made inspirational and radical changes to their lives. Watch here to learn more about San Ginesio, our friends at the Wabisabi Cutural Organisation and learn a little about Montanaro circle's courses.

sabato 31 marzo 2012

Japanese calligraphy and painting workshop at The Wabisabi Culture Centre, San Ginesio

The Wabisabi cultural centre San Ginesio, Le Marche Italy.
The brush and ink, authentic Japan in Le Marche

As admirers of the graceful art of calligraphy (we have several banners hanging around our home,) we were quick to accept the invite to attend a Japanese calligraphy and painting workshop at the Wabisabi Cultural Centre in San Ginesio. Two authentic Japanese masters introduced us to a fusion of alternate styles; Pictorial Shodo inspired by nature and Sume-i traditional script calligraphy. When we experimented with painting our names we realised that all 6 women in the group were called Sarah, the female contingent felt there must be some meaning to this but we couldn't figure out what that was....(Idries unhelpfully suggested it meant it was a very common name). From the initial exercise of creating our own ink by blending water with an ink stick onto a stone block, to the brush-work itself, the whole process was deeply relaxing. Our teachers explained that the process was a Zen practice in which we were encouraged not to 'think' too much about but just to 'do'. 3 hours has never gone so quickly. 

The master at work.
What stayed with us when we returned home was the experience of not thinking but just doing and how quickly and effortlessly the teachers produced great artwork in this state. Some of their most beautiful paintings were just a couple of brush strokes. Back home we had a look at a book that included writings by the great Chinese Zen painter Shih-T'ao. In discussing calligraphy and painting, he spoke of the effects of one's surroundings on the artwork itself. The serene haven of the Wabisabi centre was the ideal setting to explore this sacred art. In the words of Shih-T'ao; 'He who moves in the hustle and bustle of the world handles his ink an brush with caution and restraint. Thus the environment impinges upon man, can only do him harm and make him unhappy. With peace of mind comes painting...for the important thing in artwork is contemplation. When one contemplates the One (unity of all things), one sees it and that makes one happy. Then one's paintings have a mysterious depth which is unfathomable'. 

Is Idries thinking too much?
One of the many Sarah's trying her hand at Japanese script

Sarah getting inspiration for her brushwork.

Some of the results of the workshop with
a proud new owner. Yes! we framed it