Four weekends from May 10 to June 2: free ‘green’ events with some of Italy’s greatest artists

One year after the floods in Romagna, Ravenna Festival dedicates part of the programme of its 35th edition to some of the worst affected towns: a series of free, strictly ‘green’ events meant to discover—or rediscover—these lands, and to celebrate the spirit of resilience of their people. With eight events scheduled for the weekends from 10 May to 2 June, Romagna in Fiore is a special solidarity project, ecologically sustainable and wide-ranging, featuring such guests as Vinicio Capossela with Don Antonio, Neri Marcoré, Giovanni Lindo Ferretti with Simone Beneventi, Paolo Benvegnù, Elena Bucci with Christian Ravaglioli, Moder with La Corelli, Murubutu with the Moon Jazz Band, Daniele Silvestri, Manuel Agnelli, and Dardust with the Sunset String Quintet. Without large stages or artificial lighting, these concerts will take place in the afternoon—all at 4 pm, except the first, which is scheduled for 6 pm—in open spaces of great scenic and historical value, accessible on foot or by bicycle. From Faenza to Riolo Terme, from Brisighella and Modigliana to Tredozio, Galeata, Conselice, Sarsina and La Torraccia of the C.A.B. TER.RA. Cooperative—which sacrificed a large part of its land to drain the waters that threatened the city of Ravenna—Romagna in Fiore will be an excellent opportunity to meet and discuss, and to promote tourism, drawing attention to these areas and celebrating their natural and cultural heritage, as well as the hospitality that has always characterised them. The public is invited to enjoy the experience of these live shows in full respect of the host towns, where refreshments will be provided by local producers. Donations will also be collected for the small Romagna libraries whose collections have been damaged by the floods.

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All events are made possible with the support of those who have chosen to “adopt” these wounded territories. The initiative is organised by the Ravenna Festival, the Province of Ravenna and the Province of Forlì-Cesena, in collaboration with the municipalities involved. To power the minimal amplification, events will be supplied with green energy from Tozzi Green, who will provide rechargeable batteries. Trail Romagna is the organizing partner.

“Over the years,” says Michele de Pascale, President of the Ravenna Province, “the Ravenna Festival has consistently paid close attention to social issues, without being manipulative. This is notably due to its founder, Cristina Mazzavillani Muti. The Festival has always addressed the major issues of our time, and has never shied away from its duty, which is also the artists’ duty, to convey values as well as skills, talent and creativity. This year, we are facing a major issue—one that has deeply wounded our region—and the Festival will touch on many of the small towns that were severely affected by the floods in May 2023. Many small communities, people, businesses, and areas have been severely impacted, and they are still waiting for answers and actions. However, we believe that the music and words that the Festival will bring to them will surely be appreciated, and will help to keep the spotlight on them.”

“After last year’s floods, which caused so many victims and so much damage, the very thought of a Romagna in Bloom touches the most intimate chords of our land, of our being,” says Enzo Lattuca, President of the Province of Forlì-Cesena. “The Romagna of those terrible days is no longer just the “Romagna mia” of the popular folk song, but the Romagna of all Italians. In the midst of the enormous difficulties that our fellow citizens had to face, the brightest light was the solidarity that we received and showed each other. A solidarity that the Ravenna Festival has decided to express with this event, for which I thank the organisers, knowing that for many families and local businesses the return to normal is still elusive. In this regard, our task as local administrators is to ensure central support so that recovery grants and reconstruction are as quick as possible.”

“The fact that the Alighieri Theatre is the first historic theatre in Italy to have photovoltaic panels installed on its roof is a tangible sign of the ecological transition we have been working on for several years,” explains Ravenna Festival director Antonio De Rosa. “Romagna in Fiore is also a valuable opportunity to educate both the public and professionals like us about green practices in performing arts and live entertainment. I would like to thank all the authorities involved and the Prefects of the two provinces, Castrese De Rosa and Rinaldo Argentieri, for their expertise and support, as well as the State Police, the Municipal Police, the fire brigade and AUSL Romagna for their invaluable help. I would also like to thank the private companies that have “adopted” Romagna in Fiore, granting free admission to all events as a true gift of art and music to the areas concerned.”

Friday, 10 May: The opening event of the programme, the only one scheduled at 6 pm, will feature Vinicio Capossela, an omnivorous minstrel whose unbridled and vagabond mind is constantly in search of new sounds and stories, cultures and obsessions. With the complicity of Don Antonio, he will offer his Canzoni terrestri. The event will take place in Faenza, the famous capital of ceramics, where the floods reached the historic centre, at Castel Raniero, the site of a heliotherapeutic colony between 1926 and 1932 and now the “home” of a famous folk festival, “La Musica nelle Aie”.

Sunday 12 May: The chameleon-like Neri Marcoré—himself the creator of the Risorgimarche festival—is a favourite with audiences for his polite humour and unbridled passion for Italian songs. In Riolo Terme, which had to cope with yet another flood of the River Senio last November, the venue will be the ‘Casetta del Vento’, one of three farmhouses built on a ridge above the old golf course. The hills of Riolo crown a unique landscape that opens onto the Natural Park of the Romagna Chalk Outcrop, recently added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites, and the three peaks of Monte Mauro.

On Saturday 18 May, Giovanni Lindo Ferretti—punk and pious, hermit and former member of cult rock bands—will be accompanied by a percussion wizard like Simone Beneventi, winner of the Silver Lion at the 2010 Music Biennale. Wound by wound, through lament and praise, Ferretti and Beneventi will give voice to the grief of the land that lies between the charming villages of Brisighella and Modigliana (which was completely isolated by landslides) in this event held at the Olimpo di Monte Fregnanello.

On Sunday 19 May while Elena Bucci performs a fragment from her Canto alle vite infinite with Christian Ravaglioli on the accordion, Paolo Benvegnù will offer songs from his latest album È inutile parlare d’amore: what is the meaning of poetry, creativity and love in a technological society obsessed with functionality and productivity? The venue is the Agriturismo Pian di Stantino, an organic farm on the edge of the Casentino Forests National Park, one of the best preserved forests in Italy, in Tredozio, where the devastation caused by the flood was followed by the damage caused by the earthquake in September.

Saturday 25 May will see two champions of “literary” rap: Moder, who will perform on his “keys, strings and skins”, accompanied by the string ensemble La Corelli, and Murubutu with the Moon Jazz Band. The concert will take place in Galeata, another village affected by the floods, whose treasures include the thousand-year-old church of S. Ellero, an early Paleo-Christian abbey that clearly shows the stratification of different eras and styles. The abbey can be reached via the “paths of the cells”, an ancient devotional route. At 18.30 and 20 singer Luisa Cottifogli and cellist Enrico Guerzoni performs in Il Santo guaritore, a journey through sacred and folk music.

Sunday 26 May will see Daniele Silvestri, a veteran singer-storyteller who has been one of Italy’s most acclaimed and beloved songwriters for three decades now, ever since his debut album won the Tenco Prize. We will be back in the Ravenna area, where the generosity of C.A.B. TER.RA, (the first agricultural co-operative in the province, founded in 1888 by Nullo Baldini and a group of workers), saved the city from the rising waters by sacrificing hectares of farmland to drain the floodwaters. The event will take place on one of the co-op’s plots of land, at La Torraccia, overlooked by an ancient watchtower dating back to 1617.

Saturday 1 June sees a special project by Manuel Agnelli, one of the patron saints of Italian alternative rock, from Afterhours, the band he founded and leads, to his solo activity and TV success as a judge on The X-Factor. The venue is in Conselice, where the water took twelve days to drain away. The event will take place at the CAB Massari, one of the oldest agricultural co-operatives in the region and the expression of a long history of solidarity, cooperation and redemption that has transformed the marshes into farmland to stubbornly till it.

On Sunday 2 June, the final appointment is with Dardust, a producer who has emerged as one of the main agents of the renewal of Italian music in recent years (he is responsible for Mahmood’s hit “Soldi”, but he is also a pianist and a composer). Dardust will perform with the Sunset String Quintet in the clearing around the Benedictine Abbey of San Salvatore in Summano, which is believed to have connections to a pagan, Umbrian or Roman deity. The abbey is accessible from Sarsina, a small but significant Roman civitas and the birthplace of the Latin playwright Plautus, whose area was ravaged by devastating landslides.

As Romagna in Fiore takes centre stage in this year’s programme, the Ravenna Festival will showcase Silvia Camporesi’s exhibition Romagna sfigurata (Scarred Romagna), which highlights the flood emergency. The exhibition will be held at the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, hosted by the Fondazione Cassa dei Risparmi di Forlì, starting in May, while a selection of six blow-ups will be displayed at the Pala De André. Camporesi’s work will also be featured in the general programme of the Festival’s 35th edition and on the information totems located in the venues of Romagna in Fiore.

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