The castle (or the ‘Art Ark’) of Sassocorvaro

IMG_2427The castle you see on the left is the ‘Rocca’ of the Italian village Sassocorvaro (in the province of Pesaro and Urbino) where I played with our amateur orchestra on  Valentine’s Day.

I hadn’t been in Sassocorvaro for a long time, despite it is less than an hour drive from my hometown Pesaro, and I was very impressed by the beauty of the little borgo which I found extremely romantic (was it because of the red ribbons and candles in Valentine style decorating the narrow streets and the courtyard of the castle?).

Anyway, the little village of Sassocorvaro (less than 4.000 inhabitants) dates back to the 10th century (which adds magic to the place, at least to my eyes: give me an old stone and I’ll feel at home!). The first castle was built in 1061 but the ‘Rocca’ you see nowadays was rebuilt in IMG_24301475 by Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino, upon a project by Italian architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

Why is it called the ‘Art Ark’? Well, during WWII the fortress secretly hosted more than 10.000 masterpieces coming from Venice, Urbino, Pesaro, Fano, Macerata and other Italian towns (we are talking here about immense works of art such as The Tempest by Giorgione, the Ideal City and many works by Raphael, Piero della Francesca, Tiziano, Andrea Mantegna, Carlo Crivelli, Lorenzo Lotto).

IMG_2453Thanks to Mr Pasquale Rotondi, the Director of the Fine Arts Superintendence (Sovrintendenza alle Belle Arti) in the Marche region, those masterpieces were hidden inside the castle during the years 1943-1944 lest they could be destroyed or damaged by the bombings or stolen by the Nazis.

The castle hosts a late 19th century theatre on the upper floor, in the rocca‘s main hall, whose vault was painted by local painter Enrico Mancini in 1895 with garlands, little angels, landscapes – all portrayed in a Neo-classical style.

DSC01557Anyway, our musical performance, based upon 16th century (mostly French) music, was enriched by two actors reading the correspondence between the noblewoman Isabella d’Este and the violin maker Lorenzo da Pavia (the poor violin maker had to please each of her whims, creating lutes for her ‘small hands’ and, mostly, satisfying her bizarre requests such as getting her black feathers, Persian cats, precious books…).

DSC01572We also had two singers (a soprano and a basso) and a spinet player playing with our ensemble made up by 3 first violins, 2 second violins, 1 viola, 1 double bass, 1 percussionist. No cello unfortunately… by the way, does anyone of you guys play the cello and feels like joining us?

To tell the truth, the soprano, the actress and spinet player were the same lady! Talking about being multi-tasking… (but aren’t all women multi-tasking?).

DSC01526Downstream of the town, in the Mercatale valley, there is an artificial lake originated by the construction of a dam built in the 1950’s blocking the flow of the river Foglia.  I don’t know about you, but dams and repeaters scare me to death. There’s a huge repeater on the Nerone mount in our hinterland and I always try to avoid driving by it because I find it really unsettling. Why? Who knows (‘boh?’ in Italian).

IMG_2485Apart from the dam, though, it was a perfect day! Playing with my friends in such a beautiful setting was a great gift to me.  I’d like to thank Walter, who miraculously avoided killing a deer on our way back home as it jumped in front of our car all of a sudden. I’d like to thank Costanza who, despite of her young age (she’s just turned 7!), sat quietly during the concert without complaining. And I’d like to thank my sister Cristina whom I owe a few pictures of this post (cannot rememember which though!)


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