Festivals in Piedmont

Barolo: Where Wine and Music Collide The popular Collisioni Music and Literature Festival is held in Barolo, in the heart of Piedmont’s wine county.

The Festival itself has been steadily attracting more and more visitors and proved to be appreciated by a mixed audience of varying age and background. It certainly is a unique time of the year to experience Piemonte both in its traditional nature and in its elegant cultural life.

With over 1000.000 tickets sold in the 2013 edition, Collisioni Festival has quickly grown into an established must amid summer event calendars and as a core show-case for Northern Italy’s live entertainment business. Unlike many settings, Piedmont offers a rare combination – a collision if you will- of folklore, hearty foods and wines, together with an unmistakable attention to present cosmopolitan standards in the cultural and intellectual world- which fact explains how the foggy winters of the hilly farmlands of the Langhe were to beget such scores of prime national history characters from politicians and authors to thinkers and businessmen.

Perhaps it does depend on the bold, frank kick of Piedmont’s wines and cuisine alike: the art of balancing the hearty, calorie-rich mighty mountain-style recipes shared with the nearby Alps and neighbouring Switzerland and France, together with the lighter touch of Italian cooking traditions of the Genoa (Liguria) rocky coastline – the southern borders of Piedmont -, more Mediterranean and influenced by a milder climate and the proximity with Tuscany.

«The Collisioni Festival is a grand artwork where distinctions between artists and public are pleasantly blurred»

On a Collision Course: a steep ascent to the top

The Festival was born in 2009, stemming out from a think-tank of Italian journalists and writers who were trying to work out a fresh format capable of addressing your generations and to overcome set boundaries among distinct artistic codes and performing arts. It did turn out to work well from the very first edition held nearby Cuneo, where 15.000 people came to be met by a host of singers, writers and academics (among which novelist Alessandro Baricco, pop singer Jovanotti, writer Nicolai Lilin and researcher Antonio Scurati) in a rich series of conferences, concerts, theatre performances alongside with dinners, wine-tasting and genuine social time.

The following year, bigger national scene names were already in the line-up – both classic performers like comedian Paolo Rossi and 70’s iconic singer Lucio Dalla as well as present-day forefront independent artists like Vinicio Capossela. This edition was able to establish an informal contact between performers and public, a three-day experience in a vast, lively and friendly cultural entertainment microcosm.

The Festival has doubled its attendance rates year after year, but its consecration as a main summer calendar event at national level came in 2012, when  it was relocated to Barolo and it was able to win over Bob Dylan’s only tour date in Italy at the top of an impressive international line-up.

Collisioni Festival 2015: Message in a Barrel

Make sure to be free then between 17th and 21st July 2015: this year’s edition features 50 international wine critics who, along with wine-makers and sommelier, will lead you through endless guided tours at the discovery of the finest Italian wines. The line-up this year includes classy Italian artist – the kind a foreigner might very well enjoy as well- like Paolo Nutini and Vinicio Capossela, together with Sting, Mark Knopfler, Passenger among international names, and a score of assorted Italian artists of all genres and styles. The conference calendar is going to feature prominent national voices from the world of literature, thinkers, foreign authors and journalists (event organizer Alessandro Baricco, Massimo Cacciari, Gianrico Carofiglio, Mauro Corona, Daniel Pennac, Wole Soyinka)

Walking the wineland

To get to Barolo you will first have to cross the uncanningly quaint, arguably photoshopped-green hills of the Langhe along delightful ups and downs winding around the hill-top town of Barolo – After this purifying path, you will start to notice the Festival’s crowd filling the streets of the old village and gathering nearby the countless local production wineshops dotting the lively alleys – Before to sit in the shade and say goodbye to all good purposes for the day, though, do take a look inside the Corkscrew Musuem – the Museo del cavatappi, an amusing tribute to a surprisingly history-rich daily tool perhaps underestimated in its cultural implications and one you might be going to need using more often than not at the festival – for which reason, know your history.

Why not to miss Collisioni Festival

  • Music: Ok, foreigners won’t be able to get the most out of some conferences or singers, but, aside from getting the chance to see major icons like Sting or Knopfler in a unique, button-down, snub-free and yet stylish setting – there are still plenty of alternatives, starting with instrumental music to the international crowd gathering there, an endless chance to witness and take part to improvised jam sessions and playful, friendly mingling.
  • Groupie Heaven: when will you ever get to spend a wholly laid-back time with your favourite artist, band, author? Where else it does happen that stars and fans can be simply enjoying a glass and chit-chat with no hysteria whatsoever? You might even come across some interesting contacts and make unexpected cultural discoveries in such an unbiased and yet high-end scene. It’s called Collisions for a reason…
  • Did we mention that already? The wine: most would frown if presented with a calendar of conferences. But here it is indeed different, as you get to interact and talk both to the authors and to fellow visitors, and here is the inherent social value of the Italian tradition of aperitivo as tasteful wine-drinking: a warmed-up, unstuck scenario where you can discover how to appreciate quality wine and be schooled by a professional sommelier, while at once enjoying a conversation between an Italian rap singer and a Siberian-born journalist, toast with a piano player and probably meet the love of your life while glancing out at the seemingly everlasting, magnificent sunsets of Italian summertime. And you will get unrepeatable deals on otherwise unobtainable wines and put to shame your wine-savvy friends back home.
  • Enjoy Nature: this area is a UNESCO world heritage site for its landscapes: anyone driving through it gets why. The smooth curves of the hilly landscape is an open invitation to take a long walk and catch some sun across the tidy fields and patches of wild far-ranging in the picture-perfect countryside of Piedmont.
  • Make friends: some places are unfriendly, but the events are great. SOme are the other way round. Here in Barolo, you get both: a cosmopolitan, viallge-wide open social space where you will immediately feel home and be introduced and assisted by the many volunteering staff as by the local people themselves, who take pride in their reputation of hospitable folk.

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