Balbido The Painted Village
Story and photos by Tom Weber
a short drive from my spa-wellness retreat at the Grand Hotel in Terme
di Comano, via winding roads that cut through the panoramic rolling
hills of the Giudicarie Valley, sits a small, animated village deserving
of an art critic's eye: Balbido. She's the latest Under Doctor's
Orders photo-shoot destination.
Buckle up, per favore.
Known as the paese dipinto (painted
village), more than 200 original, hand-painted murals adorn the homes
of this traditional little alpine village tucked away high up in the
Bleggio Plateau, surrounded by the Brenta Dolomites of the Trentino
Alto Adige region of northern Italy.
Boasting numerous features of its long-standing
farming heritage, Balbido's landscape is dotted by grandiose houses
with their attached, vaulted stables and barns topped by wooden attics
to store hay and firewood for the long, harsh winter. Not too unusual
for this corner of the Dolomites
except most of the walls of these dwellings are suitable for framing.
Extremely proud of their past, the villagers,
in the 1980s, wholeheartedly agreed to permit members of the Gruppo
Itinerante Murales Naïf (Itinerant Group of Naïf Muralists)
to create an array of artwork on the exterior walls of their homes that
would depict Balbido's rich heritage, traditions and values, and express
village life at its core: hard work, honest living, dreams, feelings
Combining the Naïf Art style with
graffiti-based techniques, the artists set to work, each individually
assigned a different residence to serve as their canvas. When the paint
dried, this little village out of nowhere suddenly became an open-air
art museum that immediately began attracting the curious.
No worse for wear, many of the "urban
art" pieces remain pristine today, as if they were unveiled to
the public, and the homeowner, just yesterday.
Along with the Naïf Art murals, Balbido
home to some of the friendliest people you'll ever encounter
is a picture-postcard perfect photo-shoot locale. Around every
corner, it seems, something interesting to frame just pops out and says,
There's no entry fee to enter this one-of-a-kind,
out-in-the-open art gallery, but do look both ways when crossing the
street inside the painted village of Balbido.
For complete information on Balbido, and
other hidden gems around the Brenta Dolomites of the Trentino, visit
di Comano Office of Tourism website.
Next up on the Under Doctor's Orders
photo shoots, a prehistoric community that literally walked
on water: Fiave'.
the Dolomites; Traveling
in Northern Italy; The
Little Village Atop the Hill; Piovene
Sutri: A Canterbury Trail