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Largo San Michele Orsara di Puglia

During my last trip to Orsara di Puglia in July 2019, I arrived just in time for a new event, the Fine Confine Festival held in conjunction with Montaguto.  Montaguto is the closest town, less than 7 km away, but it is ‘across the border’ because it is in Campania.  Fine Confine means ‘no more borders’.  Of course, there is no actual border between Puglia and Campania, it was meant to be an emotional reflection on borders and walls.  

The 3 day festa had a jam-packed creative program.  One of the featured events was an open air exhibit, Percorso della Memoria.  The exhibit featured black and white photos taken by local architect Nicola G Tramonte between 1972 – 2008, super mega enlarged and affixed to the textured stone exteriors of buildings in the Centro Storico.  The photos are from his 2016 book Consegna di un Mondo (Surrender of a World).  It weighs almost 2kg, so I left my copy in Orsara!  Percorso della memoria, literally ‘path of the memory’, is best translated as ‘a stroll down memory lane’.  

My favourite piece, both for image and location is of Z’Ndunett (Zia Antonietta), my friend’s bisnonna, with her nose in a book.  It is on the imposing portone of Palazzo Varo in Largo San Michele.  I wonder what she is reading-it looks like it could be a prayer book? It was rare for anyone of her generation to make it past grade 2, which make the photo even more interesting.

True amicizia.  These two vecchiette were likely the best of friends for almost a century. Vecchiette are little old ladies.  Isn’t that what LOL meant before texting?

Un centesimo for her thoughts?  If only we knew what she was thinking.

This image is on the outer side wall of the 17th Century Fontana Nuova, where my Mamma used to wash clothes.  These gnarled, wrinkled, sturdy hands have worked and tilled the soil.  Likely they hand washed a lot of laundry too!

The only colour photo in the exhibit, this one is on the portone of an abandoned building I have always been fond of.  I refer to it as la casa del cappero because there is a caper tree growing from the inside. The owner died long ago, and apparently a disinterested heiress in New York does not give it much thought.  The subject lived around the corner and she fits right in,  seeming to become part of the building.  I remember her from the 1980’s when she was scandalized by my sister’s short shorts.  She would mumble ‘puttanella, puttanella’ when 8 year old Lucia walked by!

My friend Antonietta’s dress blends nicely into the colour palette as she admires this photo.  I adore these chickens who look like they are doing ‘lo struscio‘ – a passeggiata up the main street of Orsara! There were actually 2 photos on this wall, as you can see in the next photo.  This beauty is one of my favourite doors in town.

The ragazzo in this portrait with his infectious gap-toothed laugh absolutely radiates the joy of childhood! The wire his hand is gripping is mirrored in the real wire of the clothesline and the cast shadow it leaves. Unlike the rest of the photos in the exhibit which are on crumbling exteriors, this one is on a clean, newly painted surface.  My nonno Luigi used to live around the corner to the right.

There is another photo across the narrow street, but I did not get a close image of it.  I love the afternoon cast shadows on the walls. I am  constantly on the lookout for cast shadows when I wander the streets of Orsara-you can see some of my discoveries in  Il Sole di Metà Pomeriggio.

This last photo by Nicola is actually from an earlier exhibit during Fucacost e Cocce Priatorje, the November 1st festa in 2017.  I had to include it here because it was affixed to the wall of a wall down and across the narrow street from my casa in Orsara.  The red palazzo belongs to the same owner as la casa del cappero.  They are painted the same colour.  You can see the street is decorated for the festa with zucche (pumpkins) and ginestra (Scotch broom).  In case anyone is wondering ….small cars do drive these  narrow streets!

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour.  Hopefully there will be another Fine Confine Festival soon, when travel is possible again.  To see more of Nicola’s photos, check out his instagram account @nicolagtramonte.  

Buon viaggio (speriamo), Cristina