Light and alabaster on show in Volterra

Luisa Bocchietto,




The Arnioni installation in Piazza dei Priori, the central square of Volterra, Tuscany, famous all over the world for its alabaster, is the end result of a masterly union between the stone that made the city’s fortune and light. So, the city has ushered in this Christmas season with alabaster and the opening of VOLTERRA/LUMINA, launching a series of initiatives to symbolise rebirth and creativity as part of the city’s candidacy as Italian Capital of Culture 2022.

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Light and alabaster on show in Volterra The northern hemisphere is approaching the winter solstice, the shortest days of the year. So we’re seeing lots of initiatives that use light as the leading player, to brighten up our villages and make our cities more welcoming. This is the case with VOLTERRA/LUMINA, the first Christmas of alabaster in Volterra, Tuscany. This series of initiatives were launched in the wake of the Tuscan city’s candidacy as Italian Capital of Culture 2022, where Volterra is one of the ten finalists.
The full project, presented in the proposal entitled Rigenerazione Umana - Human Regeneration - focuses on the regeneration of people and communities, setting itself as an example of experimentation and as a benchmark for the rebirth of Italy through medium-sized towns and their territories. Hot topics that, in the light of the current pandemic, have become even more central. 
Alabaster is one of the bases for the candidacy of Volterra. This chalky stone formed 6-7 million years ago and has been used since the times of the Etruscans, who made cinerary urns. Volterra is considered to produce the world’s best quality of this precious mineral. Now the city is home to exclusive facilities processing this precious natural stone, whose beauty is also at the centre of the Arnioni in Piazza installation, inaugurated a few days ago. The installation is curated 
by international designer Luisa Bocchietto, past president and convenor of the Senate of the World Design Organization (WDO), and highlights the potential of the translucent stone from Volterra.
The idea is to bring blocks of “arnioni” to the public square. “Arnioni” is the technical name for the natural kidney-shaped fragments of the mineral, freed from inert materials, with “combed” shapes on the largest possible scale. The monumental installation, with light shining through the centre of the stone construction, brings out all the different colours and veins that distinguish this natural material. This idea was embraced during a workshop conducted by the local government and artisans. It is being developed with the contribution of everyone, to create an urban installation that can convey a dual message: the quality of the material and the ability of local businesses to work with it to produce excellent products. It also has the underlying intention of sending a sign of hope for the future during tough times, using light as an element of life.
The Volterra installation is a significant example of how new forms of creativity can help foster a path of knowledge and participation involving the whole community towards Volterra 22. A candidacy that turns into an “opportunity to forge a new model of development, an original, stimulating vision to build the future, to drive the wellbeing of humanity as a whole and as individuals integrated into the community, with a new interpretation of the tangible and intangible heritage that the city has pursued and protected for more than 3,000 years”
We’ll find out which city will be the Italian Capital of Culture 2022 on 18 January 2021. The other shortlisted cities are Ancona, Bari, Cerveteri, L’Aquila, Pieve di Soligo (Treviso), Procida (Naples), Taranto, Trapani and Verbania.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Luisa Bocchietto
Location: Volterra, Italy
Year: 2020
Images: courtesy of Volterra22 


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