Favara, only a few kilometres inland from the incredible Valley of the Temples, is in danger of stealing the limelight in Agrigento province and perhaps much farther afield. The oldest part of the town, a white-painted kasbah known as the Sette Cortili (seven courtyards) is a vibrant and across-the-board cultural hub of contemporary art exhibitions and permanent installations, urban gardens, artists’ residences, creative workshops for kids, literary, music and architectural events too, and still a palpable abundance of creative energy yet to explode.
Not so only 4 years ago, when Andrea Bartoli and Florinda Saieva, notary public and laywer respectively and citizens of the declining town with its derelict centre, pondered on alternative forms of development and conceived the huge project that soon became Farm Cultural Park. An architects’ collective joined in to deal with the crumbling buildings. A group of youngsters calling themselves Favara Urban Network (for FUN) devoted their energies to the urban revival plan. Artists appeared to fill the new indoor and outdoor spaces with their work and some stayed on in the town. Media people as well as contemporary art lovers, passing tourists and locals all came to see what the fuss was about. And so Favara was reborn.
An extraordinary arts centre and tourist attraction, self-supporting thanks to voluntary work, events, the bookshop, bar and barbecue garden, Farm Cultural Park also attracts shedloads of attention as an innovative example of urban regeneration, an experiment in creating growth from neglected resources, a new and sustainable business model. And all without a whiff of a grant from public funds. Just two very determined and inspiring visionaries in pursuit of happiness. And by the way, on the theme of solidarity in the South, ExFadda has partnered up with Farm Cultural Park this year in an immensely successful cultural exchange. Thanks to Giuliana De Donno again for pointing me in the direction of the Farm.