Chapter #1

The song composed upon the death of Astor Piazzolla's father

"Adìos Nonino" still resounds in the historic village of Massa Sassorosso in the municipality of Villa Collemandina. Astor Piazzolla's bandoneon (a type of concertina) seems to echo throughout the stone walls of this town perched on a spur and the birthplace of the grandmother of the Argentine Tango master.

In the summer evenings, when the village hosts music festivals among the spectacular scenery, there is always someone playing "Adìos Nonino", the poignant farewell song that Piazzolla wrote in New York in 1959 as a last gift to his recently departed father, Vicente. The term "Nonino" is a variation of the Italian word "nonnino" and was Vicente's family nickname. Astor learned of his father's passing following a bicycle accident while on tour in Puerto Rico. He immediately returned to New York. It is said that he locked himself in the kitchen and played the heartbreaking melody on the bandoneon. Piazzolla's Garfagnana roots are celebrated by a square, Largo Astor Piazzolla, which proudly claims: "Artist and son of this land".

Chapter #2

The shades of marble on the rock

The village of Sassorosso boasts pre-Roman origins and was built with local stones. It is 1,089 meters high and rises above the valley. Steep and filled with steps, it is best visited at sunset when its colours blend with those of the hill. The unique shade of its marble, called Rosso Collemandina (extracted until recently) was much sought after thanks to its colour and rare design. It was used for marble inlays, furnishings and architectural details in churches and the houses of the nobility. The old quarry, now in disuse, sits on the top of the rocky cone of the village. The thousand shades of Rosso Collemandina marble are still visible in the cut rock.

Chapter #3

Hay festival remembers transhumance

The cutting of the hay marked the beginning of the season of flock transhumance. Mountain pastures therefore became free for anyone who wished to bring their sheep and cows. The hay was cut by peasants and shepherds from all over Garfagnana, which they then celebrated with a feast. In Villa Collemandina, particularly in the Campaiana Alps, this ritual is still very much felt. The hay festival takes place every year at the end of July. Local associations remember the old farming activities of hay mowing and drying, which was either carried on the shoulder or with the help of the mules. The festival takes place in the same place as it was once celebrated. The town of Villa Collemandina, which is divided into six fractions, is dominated by the rhythms of rural life and evidenced in the local food. Herds can be found among the pastures of Pruno, Sulcina, Salera and Campaiana. The only exception is Pianacci, in which crafts and stone work take precedence. 

Photo by: LigaDue