Festa Monini: colors, sounds and tastes of Umbria

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The city with the painted walls

Umbria and its surroundings
02 Novembre 2014

The city with the painted walls

Mugnano, a small village with an almost surreal, atmosphere, where past and present meet and mingle.

At one time, millions of years ago, the Cestola valley was once completely covered with water: it was the called lago Tiberino (or Tiberino lake) that from north to south it crossed all of Umbria. When the waters receded, small agricultural families settled along the river. Later, during the Roman era, the "Minius" family became owners of the area, from which it would seem that the name Mugnano originates. Today, whoever comes to visit, will find an ancient village with no more than 1000 inhabitants, surrounded by the gentle Umbrian countryside and hills covered with oak forests where they live mainly on agriculture, tourism and artisan crafts, which are predominately majolica..


The Benedictine Abbey

It was the Benedictine monks who boosted agriculture. Around 1000 A.D. the Benedictine monks founded an abbey and engaged in the reclamation of the surrounding territories involving the whole population, in exchange for their work they received protection and asylum. Thus it came to be that the land quickly became the most fertile in the region. In the following centuries the Benedictines gave way to the Cavalieri di Malta (Knights of Malta), who still manage some farmland nearby. However, today, little is left of the original abbey. On the contrary, the castle that the monks had built to protect the small village, the external walls and the mighty tower still exist, that later in the eighteenth century was superimposed by the bell tower. And it is these strong architectural elements that today draw the profile of the beautiful small village, that like many others in the region, still preserve the historical town centre in its old nucleus of alleys, arches and little squares. The buildings proportions, the colours, the materials used, the form of the twinning streets, everything seems to help communicate to the traveller a sense of reassuring harmony, harmony that exists between man's work and the environment which hosts it, almost as if time had incorporated the centuries-old buildings into nature.

The painted walls

But if this is what happens in many of the most renowned towns of Umbria, here in Mugnano, there is something different and very special. About thirty years ago, a careful restructuring process of the historical centre was started; the buildings and the houses were saved from further degradation, work was also carried out on the street pavement and street lighting, the charm of the medieval village has been preserved with care. At the same time it was decided not to make the small town a sort of open-air museum artefact, but to make it come alive in today's world. Painters, both Italian and foreign were called, and they were invited to paint or fresco the façades and the external walls of houses with contemporary style art. Modern art thus began to flourish on the old medieval walls creating a strange and fascinating effect that had an almost "surreal" beauty. Umbrian painters and foreign artists have coloured the ancient narrow streets with modernity. The styles and pictorial languages are very different, ranging from figurative to informal. The topics range from the town's history to fantasy scenes. The "painted walls", one after the other, build an ideal way to read a story of creativity, artistic and human sensitivity that seems to know no limits of time, or space. A story of men and women who want to leave their mark on the area and the community where they live.

A journey that is to be thoroughly enjoyed

Any corner becomes special, the views even more beautiful, ancient façades revitalised by contemporary colours and shapes that tell a story of vitality and creativity that never die. The painted walls, that from year to year are enriched with new art, representing a beautiful cross-section of contemporary painting. But what is most striking is how all the frescoes, even the most recent, perfectly blend with the ancient village, thus giving the feeling that they have always been there. All this makes Mugnano a unique town, to visit at any time, even in the evenings or afternoons in winter when it gets dark early, as the route is fully lit, this incredible harmony, outside of time, this wonderful blend of past and present is always available.

(photos taken from www.windoweb.it)



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