PECCIOLI: WHEN WASTE BECOMES ART...

AN EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF HOW ONE SMALL VILLAGE WAS TRANSFORMED FROM A WASTE DUMP TO AN OPEN-AIR ART DISPLAY...

This time we took a two-hour drive from Cortona towards Peccioli, a municipality of circa 5,000 souls, located 30km north of Volterra, in the province of Pisa. This medieval village forms the surprising backdrop to numerous contemporary works of art.
On entering the village one can’t help but notice this colourful, spiral-shaped footbridge - nominated “Endless Sunset” which connects the historic centre above to the newer parts of the village below.
Before going further, we reveal the reason for this strange combination of medieval houses and contemporary works of art. Strangely enough, the cause can be found in…waste!
In 1989 the municipality of Peccioli decided to set up a public-private company for the sustainable processing of waste: instead of arousing opposition or hostility from the local residents who might have considered such an enterprise a threat, the local council called for their participation. 64% of the shares are now owned by the municipality, while the remaining 36% are owned by local residents.
The activities of the landfill site have not only led to financial gain for the community, but also to extensive investment in public works and new technology (for clean sustainable energy). Under the enterprising guidance of the town’s mayor, Renzo Macelloni, funds have also been utilized to embellish the municipality with contemporary works of art: Artists from all over the world have contributed.
Here is a selection:
Let's start with the Palazzo Senza Tempo: Once owned by the Medici dynasty, the palace was renovated and is now used for various socio-cultural initiatives: exhibitions, meetings, workshops, ….
An impressive terrace floats twenty meters above the ground and gives a panoramic view of the landscapes and natural beauty surrounding Peccioli.      
One of the walls was painted in 2021 by Arnold Buren:
On one of the facades in the city center you can see dozens of pictures of eyes... They are the eyes of the inhabitants of Peccioli, which were photographed by Vittorio Corsini in 2017 and combined into a work of art 'Lo sguardo di Peccioli':
Walking through alleys and covered corridors you will find light installations here and there:
We discover art not only in the old center of Peccioli, but also in the outlying districts.
In Ghizzano, the British artist David Tremlett (known for the Cappella del Barolo interior in Piemonte) convinced the inhabitants of Via di Mezzo to have their houses painted in exotic colours:
Wandering through the streets we meet other artworks: a marble sphere in front of the church, and its ‘negative space’ a little further on
But the real highlight is situated a few kilometers from Peccioli, just outside the Legoli district: the 'Impianto Belvedere', the large imposing waste dump where several trucks unload their waste every day in a remote valley.  Instead of hiding the waste processing plant, an open-air museum has been created here!
Again David Tremlet (2017) colored the retaining walls and silos like a construction of Lego blocks.
A little further on, two gigantic human statues made of polystyrene (5 meters!) rise from the ground ('Presenze' - 'Giganti di Peccioli'). They symbolize the philosophy of the Peccioli project: the rebirth of life on a place where there is only destruction (the circular economy).
They form the spectacular decor for an amphitheatre, where all kinds of cultural events take place.
By the way, just outside the center of Peccioli you will find a third sculpture and another theater (Fonte Mazzola):
Impressive and surprising, that's how you can describe the visit to Peccioli!
Be sure to plan a full day. And for a visit to the waste processing plant (with the Giganti) you should book in advance by telephone.
Patrick & Kaat Muylle, 31/05/2023 19:06:32

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