Sant’Angelo di Roccalvecce – the fairy tales village
The Place of the Fairy Tales
And speaking of goddesses… it is thanks to a team of all-female street artists that this small and otherwise anonymous village of the so-called “Tuscia Viterbese” has come back to life. These modern goddesses used colors and imagination as a magical spell to transform S. Angelo di Roccalvecce into the “Paese delle Fiabe” (i.e. Fairy Tales town).
The history of the castle of Roccalvecce
Hard to find on the maps. Sant’Angelo is a tiny village lost in the countryside of the province of Viterbo, located in the center of what is now known as the “Strada del Vino della Teverina” (i.e. The Wine road of the Teverina region). It is a hamlet of Roccalvecce, hence its name. Roccalvecce is a borough of ancient origins, we are in a territory rich in history, which from an Etruscan settlement will be transformed by the Romans into a “castrum” and then later, during the Middle Ages, into a castle. The ownership of the castle will pass from hand to hand until, in 1642, it will be bought by the family of the Marquis Costaguti who will expand it, transforming it into the building we see today. Still owned by the family, the castle was completely renovated in the year 2000 and converted into a hotel.
There are several hypotheses on the origin of the name of the town, the most accredited is the one that makes it derives from “Rocca Helvetica“. Since it was a garrison between the Papal State and the Republic of Siena, it became the station for the papal gendarmes, the famous “Swiss Guards“, and named the “Rocca Helvetica” and over time this term was likely transformed into Roccalvecce.
The agricultural origins of the town of Sant’Angelo
Sant’Angelo was born at the beginning of the 18th century to host the farmers and shepherds who had moved here from the surrounding areas to work in the countryside of Roccalvecce. In its history, there are neither ancient origins nor illustrious families and there are no fine architecture or works of art, it’s the Cinderella of this district. Few houses lined up along two streets, a square overlooked by a small church dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel and the name of the main road –Via delle Mura Saracene– which, perhaps, indicates the place where ancient walls once stood. Precisely because it does not boast illustrious origins, we know almost nothing of its history.
Alice in Wonderland
“ But, said Alice, if the world has absolutely no sense who’s stopping us from inventing one”Lewis Carroll
Without resources and cut off from the main communication routes, Sant’Angelo was doomed to die. Abandoned by young people, forced to go elsewhere to find work, with its population aging fast and shrinking to just over a hundred people, it was on the way to becoming one of the many “ghost villages” of Italy (there are about 6000 abandoned villages in Italy). But it is thanks to the idea of two cousins, Alessandro and Gianluca Chiovelli, that this town is given a new life. The project was born in 2015 and is as simple as it is ambitious: entrusting the task of reviving S. Angelo di Roccalvecce to art. In 2016, Gianluca Chiovelli founded the cultural association ACAS, of which he will become president, to redeem the small village, and revive the local economy. They contact Tina Loiodice, an artist and street artist from Rome, who will become the artistic director of the association and the project comes to life.
Sant’Angelo Il Paese delle Fiabe
Today, finding Sant’Angelo di Roccalvecce is easy, just type in “il Paese delle Fiabe”. Now a
tourist destination, on weekends the town comes alive with people wandering through its
streets in search of their favorite fairy tale. By now almost 50 murals have been created, the first one was made by Tina Loiodice “Children discover Alice’s tale”, who set the starting date of this adventure in the hands of White Rabbit’s clock, 11.27: November 27, 2017, the day of the inauguration of this mural.
Visiting Sant’Angelo is like stepping into a book as each mural has its own story to tell that goes beyond the fairy tales they illustrate. The murals tell us about its inhabitants, the surrounding area, its stories, or places like Civita di Bagnoregio – the “dying city” -, portrayed in the “Volo di Civita” (i.e. Civita flight) by Alessandra Carloni. A zero-impact project that has managed to redevelop this town and revive its fortunes, and it’s also thanks to Sant’Angelo that new projects are being developed today to promote this
the territory so rich in history and culture.