People started to gather in Piazza Angelio at 11.45 pm as word spread that there was to be a closing ceremony for the marble sculture.
At midnight all the street lights in Barga Vecchia were extinguished and the city fell into darkness – well, not quite darkness as the full moon lit up the piazza with a bright penetrating light.
And then miraculously a fog like mist arrived and drifted through the piazza, the full moon was covered and darkness finally enveloped the square.
The crowd stopped talking as the blue phosphorescent light on the marine life sculpted into the marble came to life.
People savoured the moment, the silence extended, it moved into poetry, one of those special moments that can’t and won’t be repeated …. then spontaneous applause filled the piazza and the moment had passed.
Was this a scene from a film ? No, it was just normal daily in Barga – these things happen.
The La Casa dei Pesci – “Fish Homes” project is the realisation of a dream, the dream of Paolo Fanciulli, a fisherman from the Maremma region of Tuscany. Paolo’s dream is to create a sustainable space between nature and fisheries, between nature and beautiful art, between security and usability; his dream is to create all this at sea, and to bring everyone to ‘look into the sea’ and discover that there is so much nature and beauty that would normally overlooked – because it is invisible – and because the mare nostrum is plundered daily by illegal fishing, polluted by toxic wastes and detergents. The “Fish Home” project has grown out of long years of battling by independent fishermen, against the encroachment of industrial fishing that destroys fish stocks, and even worse, systematically destroys benthic flora and fauna, leaving the seabed looking like a desert.
It has evolved with the certainty that along the 8,000 km of Italian coastline, it will always be impossible to enforce the law with any kind of thorough control; the only solution, therefore, is the placement of large cement blocks placed under the sea to physically stop the huge weighted nets from dragging the seabed. 150 of these blocks have already been placed in the sea and over the past five years, nature has taken over, the fish and marine life has returned and Paolo Fanciulli has created an area where illegal fishing is no longer possible.
Paolo Fanciulli now wants to expand the protected zone and the donation of 100 large blocks of marble from the Michelangelo marble quarries at Carrara has given him the chance to re-build the natural ravines that provide shelter for fish, enriching the La Casa dei Pesci – ‘fish homes’
Some of these blocks of marble are going to be sculpted and what is effectively an underwater sculpture park is in the process of being prepared with the aim of attracting large numbers of tourists to ‘see under the surface of the sea’ and create a new consciousness for sustainable sea development, capable of countering the spread of concrete building along the coast.
Three of those blocks of marble were transported into Piazza Angelio in Barga Vecchia at the start of last week and the Roman sculptor, Massimo Catalani has been working away chiselling into the marble.
What started out as a single project has gradually metamorphosed into a social event with other artists and passers-by picking up hammers and chisels and lending a hand at chiselling into the hard marble surface. Massimo will be there every day this week working on this project before once again they’re carried across the mountain to Talamone and placed under the sea as part of the La Casa dei Pesci – “Fish Homes” project.