A Homage to the Unsung Heroes of Cinque Terre:
In the centre of the Riomaggiore village, in front of the very modern Tourist Information Office, is a huge colourful mural by Silvio Benedetto. The mural tells the story of the men and women who over several generations and thousands of years built and maintained more than eight million cubic meters of dry stone walls that run throughout the Cinque Terre.
Using sandstone only, they had no cement or any cohesive material to work with, which makes the landscape that they built unique to the world.
The aim of the mural is to pay homage to these unsung heroes. Hopefully the many visitors that flood the Cinque Terre each year will stop for a brief moment when in Riomaggiore to acknowledge the unknown heroes whose past labours have contributed to make the Cinque Terre what it is today.
Silvio Benedetto’s explanation of his works:
“This is how I chose to narrate them – without heroism or vaunting, without “affability” or idealism. I painted men of times gone by who saved their land by raising walls, stone upon stone. These men decided to undertake this opus independently, that is without subjection, and this is why upon seeing their portrayal someone commented, “there’s toil but also serenity in their faces”. Hard but serene faces. Faces bereft of pleasantries and ambiguities. Faces like the landscape with wrinkles like furrows that do not welcome impostors, jesters or the high and mighty but seeds of freedom. I painted men that prop up the land: one passes stones between the thorns, another supports the wall between strawberry trees and honeysuckles, another places stones among salamanders and yet another hits the stones and frightens the jays.”
In the little courtyard facing the harbour, above the town municipal office, is the other of Silvio Benedetto’s mural. .Agree or disagree?