Rione Fornelle and its painted poetry | Take note and go.

That day I got lost and I found myself wandering around neighbourhoods of Salerno I had never been to before, I discovered an incredible place where I could enjoy street art and get overwhelmed by the beauty of verses written on walls. I didn’t simply walk around forgotten areas of the city, I roamed through poetry.

It was a cold day of December and I was having a walk with my other half in the historical centre of Salerno. It was a boring afternoon and, in order to spice up the typical lazy mood which precedes big festivities, we chose to avoid the crowds and get through an empty alley to see where it would have led us. After treading a few tens of meters and a couple of turnings, we ended up in front of a huge mural decorated by some writings: as soon as I perused a few words, I understood I was reading a poem.
Without making our intention explicit, we just started following the words hand in hand, in search for more colours and verses to read.

That day, by pure accident, we found ourselves in Rione Fornelle, a projects in Salerno which was requalified a few years ago thanks to a cultural act which aimed to give new life and colour to a seedy area of the city.
They basically wanted to transform a poor and dirty neighbourhood, in contrast with the sparkle and the beauties of the city centre, into a colourful space where the locals and wanderers could enjoy fine verses and vibrant paintings.

One of the main reasons which allowed the realisation of this project was the will to pay homage to Alfonso Gatto, a hermetic poet which was born right in Rione Fornelle in the first years of the past century. I will leave down below a translation of his biography, easily available on papers scattered around the walls of the neighbourhood.

Alfonso Gatto was one of the greatest italian poets of the 20th century. He was born in Salerno the 17th of July 1909 and he left the city at an early age. The “poet with a luggage” has lived in Milan, Florence, Bologna, Trieste, Venice and Rome. In 1943 he actively joined the Italian resistance movement. In the immediate aftermath of the war, he came back to Milan where he worked as a journalist, a carreer he pursued afterwards in Rome, where he worked for RAI in cultural broadcastings. He also was a painter, sportsman and even actor in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s movies “Vangelo secondo Matteo” and “Teorema”. He died the 8th of March 1976 because of a car accident.

Gatto’s poetic verses are not the only ones decorating the alleys and small squares of Rione Fornelle: Alda Merini, Paul Éluard and Visar Zhiti are just some of the poets who will welcome you in the magic of this charming place.

After that day, I had to wait one year before immersing myself in the poetry of Rione Fornelle. It wasn’t because of simple lack of time, but failure of reaching the place again. As a matter of fact, I was able to find myself in those alleys full of colourful words thanks to that skill which lets me get lost in any occasion, on purpose or at the most inconvenient time. It’s a matter of conditions, and sometimes the favourable ones might not recur anymore: it’s all in the hands of fate.
I newly found my ideal condition a few days ago, when a friend of mine gave me the genius idea to look for it on google maps: it was easy to trace back the poet to the name of the neighbourhood and thanks to the infallible google maps, I was finally able to enjoy again the hidden Art of what used to be a neglected spot in the inner city of Salerno.

It might sound stupid, I know, but sometimes I forget about having at my disposal a directive app available on my phone.

In conclusion, if you have the chance to spend a few hours in Salerno, type Rione Fornelle on the search bar and let the GPS lead you to the place where poems are painted on walls. Not only you will have the chance to enjoy beautiful murals and discover about poets you had probably never heard about before, but you’ll get right in the heart of Salerno and experience the city in a more intense and rousing way.

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