An artistic itinerary that nurtures the value of the land and the people; a participatory and multi-location art project that unites the two hearts of the Italian Capital of Culture 2023 through Franciacorta.
More and more, Italian museums are working to abandon the traditionally conservative concept of exhibition spaces and embrace a participatory approach to art, which must be understood as a tool for sharing and inclusion in cities. This eagerness for community growth – the Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 claim – lives on in the Industrious Lives art project, conceptualised by Valerio Rocco Orlando and included in the Berlucchi House of Talents format under the direction of Caroline Corbetta, which promotes the Franciacorta area starting from the people working there. And it is specifically industriousness that is the underlying theme of a trilogy of works that starts out in Franciacorta and then develops in the two neighbouring cities, composing a symbolic conversation in which all are called upon to participate.
The first stop on this art, food, and wine tour is the GAMeC (Bergamo Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art), which is the venue for the second Industrious Lives neon sculpture in its inner courtyard. The work arose from the involvement of a group of students from the Bergamo Polytechnic School of the Arts who were questioning themselves – under the guidance of Valerio Rocco Orlando – about the relationship between the education system and the world of work, producing a series of written thoughts from which the artist selected the “best” synthesis, and then transformed it into an art object. “Who should I become?” is the enlightening question that embraces the ambitions, doubts and fears of young people who are entering the world of work, involving the entire citizenry in the search for an answer to this existential question.
The journey can only continue in Franciacorta, a land that gave birth to the project and substantializes the industrious dimension through work in the vineyard and the winery. It is precisely in a winery in Erbusco, Terra Donata, that the result of Maurizio’s commitment is preserved. As a child, he played with his father Giuseppe’s tractor and enjoyed pressing grapes during the grape harvest, but at only fifteen years of age found himself precociously at the helm of the estate, devoting his life to the land that had been given to him by his father, and before that, his grandfather. This legacy was not passively preserved, as Maurizio decided to aspire to something nobler than producing bulk still wine, consumed by friends and family. Therefore, after years of experimentation, two Franciacorta wines with character came into being from just under a hectare of vineyards, from a single harvest and representing the highest expression of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
This region is as active in wine as it is in gastronomy, and before visiting another work in the trilogy, the Cadebasi Franciacorta restaurant is a worthwhile stop. The establishment combines typical Franciacorta products with less traditional ingredients, and does so with a menu of hot and cold “tidbits” that celebrates this contamination. After a good lunch, checking in provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy a few hours of rest. The Agriturismo Solive offers rural-style double rooms and two-room apartments with a lovely view of the Franciacorta hills. Olive groves and vineyards surround this farmstead, creating an atmosphere of silence for guests in search of relaxation.
Just minutes away stands the installation that gave origin to the project proposed by Cristina Ziliani, manager of external relations for Guido Berlucchi and founder of the Accademia Berlucchi, a think tank of talented people who meet to inspire and discuss ideas and initiatives related to sustainability, regional protection and innovation. “Work has many faces” is the phrase that Valerio Rocco Orlando transformed – again reproducing the artist’s handwriting – into the neon sculpture mounted on the Borgonato Castle, right in front of the vineyards. This work of art is the result of a workshop that brought together a group of Guido Berlucchi employees, with which the artist aimed to shed light on the human geography of these places. “If work were a person, who would it be? A sister, a mother, a co-worker?” This brainchild took form in the many faces that comprise each person’s working biography, pushing the community – which participated in the activities voluntarily – outside of the comfortable pragmatism that sets the pace for everyday life in the company, and creating a stimulus for thought, just as useful as working with one’s nose to the grindstone.
One cannot leave Borgonato without visiting the historic wine cellar dating back to 1680, which ten metres below ground is home to the first bottle of Franciacorta ever produced, arising from Guido Berlucchi’s meeting with young winemaker Franco Ziliani, who proposed a long shot to him back in 1955: “a sparkling wine in the French manner”. An intuition that changed the vocation of an entire area forever.
After a tasting the estate’s most representative “classic”, “premium” or “exclusive” bottles, the day can only end at the table. Only three-hundred metres away, the Ristorante Due Colombe al Borgo Antico is the expression of a dining approach that is based on people and a collaboration between professionals, with the aim of guaranteeing and fostering the abundance of the land and the lake: farmers, cattle breeders and fishermen pass on their know-how and passion to the cooks, which go straight to the palate through a story mediated by cuisine.
The next morning begins in a winery in Paderno Franciacorta, which makes the “tenacious pursuit of perfection” its creed: Camilucci proposes visits by appointment with the possibility of tasting its most iconic bottles, from the “Antologie Blanc” and the “Antologie Noir”, which are made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes in varietal vinification (respectively) and are only produced in vintages of absolute excellence, to the “ST”, a Brut Nature in a numbered series aged for at least one hundred and fifty months.
A little further south, a complete, contemporary and self-sufficient farm stands, where sisters Roberta and Romina Agosti have applied the concept of “evolved agricultural traditions”. Il Colmetto is a farm where Saanen goats and Romagnoli donkeys are raised, with a small dairy and shop, greenhouses, fields and gardens for growing vegetables, fruit and grains. The restaurant enhances each element with its “agricultural cuisine”, which celebrates the dignity of each raw material, minimising waste.
The journey through Franciacorta’s industriousness culminates in the contemporary sculpture park of the Museum of Santa Giulia’s Viridarium Garden, a welcoming place and powerful example of the deep connection between present and future. “Educating Humanity” is the third and final sculpture of the cycle, created from a series of meetings with a group of cultural mediators. Approximately one hundred and forty ethnic groups live together in the province of Brescia, which welcomes them mostly through work. These two words aim to be the stimulus for a new interpretation of the city, no longer a mere tourist destination but a space for intercultural and intergenerational education where we can all learn from one another.