Our journey begins in the Marche region, in the heart of Central Italy, between the Apennine mountains and the sea, on the gentle lines of hills that slope sharply down to the Adriatic.
History has made the area rich in settlements, with more than 400 conglomerations in brick or stone which are well worthy of conservation.
Their apparently similar outlines actually conceal behind the town walls urban layouts that are both original and surprising, always new and varied, with secluded and protective squares, splendid historic theatres, museums and art galleries, civic and religious buildings of outstanding artistic beauty.
Everything is in harmony with the surrounding countryside, which reveals the same geometrical care as the historic centres, with isolated houses dotted all around.
Over the centuries, the work of the peasants has created a landscape that is so beautiful that it is hard to imagine all the effort it has cost.
In the words of Osvaldo Licini, the Marche-born painter who won the Venice Biennale in 1958 and who portrayed the land of Piceno with great sensitivity, this is a “Land of Mothers“.
A land that welcomes visitors with the rotundity of its shapes, the warm generosity of its wines, an undeclared love of its food, and with the soft pinks of its brickwork villages.
A Land of Mothers, but also a land of the spirit, always close to the sky to which it is bound by mountain peaks in its two national parks, visible from everywhere.
A land of abyssal, labyrinthine queries of which the legendary sorceress Sibilla continues to remind the traveller from her caves in the Sibillini mountains.
A land of enigmatic, lunar features, which again Licini has significantly viewed as an obsessive presence of existential interpretation.
As we were saying, the journey starts in this land where opposites come together in perfect harmony, in the peaceful coexistence between nature that creates and man who builds.
A balance that can be read in that extraordinary book, written by so many authors, that is the landscape.
In the words of an effective and ingenious metaphor, the landscape is the face of a territory, the image with which members of a local community see and recognise each other, with which they present themselves to the outside world: an open-air document in which generation upon generation have written their history.
It is an identifying monument, full of the signs and symbols of their sense of belonging.
The landscape has been chosen by Piceno as its most salient cultural feature, the finest way to introduce itself and make itself known – precisely because of its power of communication, the clarity and force with which it conveys its culture, and the way it brings together the colourful world of sea and earth.
It is the reconciliation of opposites, the balance between sun and moon, between the spirit and the flesh: this is the soul of Piceno.