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Recolor, when art and landscape intercross to promote tourism

A European project between Italy and Croatia, led by the Emilia-Romagna Region, is underway

Looking at the landscape depicted in the Mona Lisa in a live view, admiring it from a panoramic balcony in the valleys of Montefeltro, observing the transformation time has traced in the territory, in comparison with a copy of the original. Or reliving the spirit of that time through the performances of actors dressed in the clothes of the time.

It is one of the projects carried out by Emilia-Romagna Region which enabled it to be the leader of the new European initiative RECOLOR - Reviving and EnhanCing artwOrks and Landscapes Of the adRiatic.

The project is financed with approximately € 2 million under the European Interreg Italy-Croatia programme 2014-2020 and involves others seven partners: University of Bologna, Polyitechnic of Šibenik, Municipality of Campobasso, Municipality of Cividale del Friuli, Montefeltro Sviluppo Scarl, Municipality of Labin and City of Zara.
RECOLOR has started in recent days after the meeting of all partners in Urbania (Pesaro-Urbino) on March 5th.

The project aims at increasing the tourist attractiveness of Italian and Croatian urban and rural landscapes that have a significant cultural heritage but are outside of traditional tourist circuits, combining the protection of the natural landscape with the cultural and tourist promotion of the areas involved.

The reference experience is the one developed in Montefeltro, where important correspondences were discovered with the landscapes depicted in works by Masters of the Renaissance like Piero della Francesca and Leonardo da Vinci, the Mona Lisa amongst them.

"We succeeded in transforming a scientific research of artistic character - says the regional councillor for culture Massimo Mezzetti - in a project of territorial development of tourist value. It is an opportunity to innovate and at the same time to rediscover a Renaissance methodology, in which the various disciplines of knowledge are interwoven, involving different experts, i.e. art historians and geologists. But it is also a sign of Emilia-Romagna’s creativity and design capability that can now be shared with other European countries".

The experience in Emilia-Romagna

This approach has been experimented in Emilia-Romagna since 2011, with the project “Montefeltro Renaissance Sights”.

The research by scholars Rosetta Borchia, landscape painter and expert of landscapes in art- and Olivia Nesci, professor in Geomorphology at the University of Urbino and expert of physical landscapes- documented that just this territory had inspired famous works by celebrated Renaissance painters as Piero della Francesca and Leonardo.
Some art historians thought the landscapes depicted in their painters were imaginary, while others tried to collocate them geographically. In 2017, the two scholars -yet defined ‘landscape hunters”- fund them in Montefeltro, among Emilia-Romagna, Marche and Tuscany, among the picks and limestone cliffs of the Valmarecchia area and the gentle hills of the River Metauro valley.

Piero della Francesca, Dittico dei Duchi di UrbinoBorchia and Nesci first discovered an element of the background behind Federico da Montefeltro in the Dyptich of the Dukes of Urbino by Piero della Francesca (exposed at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence), which represents the River Metauro valley in the territory of the former Duchy of Urbino. Thereafter, they started a series of historic-artistic researches and scientific investigations, associating the historic-artistic aspects of the territory, the artists’ biographies and the documents of their clients, the geological, ecological and climate evolution aspects in order to explain possible environmental changes.

This innovative methodological approach, first experimented on pictorial landscapes, lays the foundation for new investigations which would lead not only to the discovery of other backgrounds of Piero’s paintings in the valley of Montefeltro but also to the discovery of the landscape of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa in the area among Romagna, Marche, Tuscany, and Umbria.

This is how "I balconi di Piero" (the balconies of Piero) were born, small belvedere scattered along the two roads Tuscan painter Piero travelled to reach his clients in Urbino and Rimini. These landscapes are still intact and can be admired thanks to "cultural sight points" with didactic panels in which some of the Master's paintings are reproduced with the landscapes of the time compared exactly to the current ones.

Two further ‘Sightseeing Points’ have been created in Pennabilli (Rimini) over the landscapes that serve as a background to the Mona Lisa, so creating an open-air museum leading visitors inside the Renaissance masterpieces.

Today, while researches on the works by Raffaello are being carried out, these initiatives are a reference for the project RECOLOR, in which seven local projects by each partner will be developed following the Emilia-Romagna pilot project.

The funds available by Emilia-Romagna Region will be used for the creation of two new balconies and restoration of the existing ones, the realization of tourist apps, signals, and promotional materials, web marketing activities, scientific coordination of the interventions.


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