Mona Lisa, Mussolini, mountain music and an astonishing art snapshot in Romagna


Wonderful work now put in place

Quirky and Sublime  destination unveils a swathe of fascinating projects – Romagna tourism treasure reveals even more hidden jewels

Benito Mussolini was born in Forli and it was here that his rise to political power began. It’s no wonder that he chose his hometown to showcase the power and grandeur of his Fascist movement.

The grand avenue of Fascist architecture stretches from the massive railway station to the memorial monument and includes a flying school, a massive gym, workers flats, two schools and many other buildings all in a muscular Art Deco style now called Totalitarian Architecture.


The town council have been prime movers (with other countries in South East Europe) in a massive new ATRIUM  project to see these monuments for what they are, create a tourist trail, and to understand the Fascist, and other totalitarian movements, and their destructive power. In Forli, along with the fascinating buildings, a new collection has been shown  “Novecento”   which depicts both pre-war Italian daily life and great works of Fascist art.

And, to promote the “Totalitarian Architecture Cultural Route” to tourists, a “Festival of the Twentieth Century” has been launched, a collection of events which involve the whole Forlì area including five towns of the district: Bertinoro, Castrocaro Terme, Terra del Sole, Predappio, Forlimpopoli and Cesenatico. The idea is to create a visit to the area which, starting from rationalist and monumentalist architecture, is able to include all that the cities can offer in terms of art, events and food. Quite a combination!


Giorgio de Chirico “Forgia di Vulcano”

And, when the war was over, in 1949, as the post-war boom was helping Italy get out of its economic traumas, a rich local art collector and brickmaker , Giuseppe Verzocchi contacted Italy’s top 70 artists. His request – paint what you like, and I’ll pay but just make sure that each painting has one of my bricks in it! The Verzocchi collection – an unique snapshot of Italy in the early 1950’s was given to Forli in 1961. Included in the collection are such world-famous artists as Moreni, Morlotti,, Santomaso, Birolli Capogrossi Turcato Carra, Casorati, de Chirico, Depero to name just a few. The collection will be on show by the end of 2013 in a specially-restored Forli Palazzo.

See all these amazing pictures here:

And, just down the road from Forli and still in Romagna, a new discovery has just taken place. Outside the fabulous hilltop citadel of San Leo, the landscapes that graced many Renaissance portraits  (including Leonardo’s Mona Lisa) has been pinpointed.


Look behind you!

The discovery, in the Montefeltro area, of the background landscapes of Piero della Francesca and other painters (including Leonardo da Vinci), is a real treasure and represents an absolutely unique and original tourist and cultural offer

Conceived by Rosetta Borchia and Olivia Nesci, two local landscape seekers, with the help of a promoter, Silvia Storini, the project is called Montefeltro Renaissance Sights.

The idea is to create a new, alternative and unique unconventional hillside museum concept. The museum will be in the open, in the sun, in the wind, “closer to the sky”. Tourist information will be lively, dynamic and interactive..

mechanical beastWho brought him to the party?

Yet another massive undertaking is going on locally. Time for a party? In Romagna it’s always time for a party!. And at the tiny picturesque hilltop settlement of Pennabilli (pop 1,500)a massive party recently kicked off. ‘Artisti in Piazza’  plays host each year to 64 international theatre, music, circus and street art companies. This festival attracts no less that 40,000 guests who enjoy great music and entertainment, fabulous food and wine and astonishing hospitality.

But, Pennabilli had one massive asset – a committed resident in the form of Tonino Guerra, concentration camp survivor, acclaimed film director, poet and friend and screenwriter to Frederico Fellini. He created the magical gardens around Pennabilli, “Places of Reflection” including the “Garden of Forgotten Fruits” and the “Sanctuary for Thoughts”. Guerra even enticed the Dalai Lama to Pennabilli to plant a mulberry tree for peace.

Asked “Why do you do this festival” – the organizers replied “To have fun, of course!”

That’s Guerra, that’s Romagna.

Further information on Romagna visit: Facebook group

And the “Best of Romagna” is shortly to be produced regularly highlighting food and wine, cookery and recipes, art and culture and tourism offers. Be first to get a FREE copy email

Valere Tjolle


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