The city of mosaics
Spilimbergo City of Mosaics is what is written on three mosaic panels at the town gates (coming from Dignano, Tauriano or Valvasone).
Visitors immediately have the feeling of setting off on a journey through time told through multi-colour tiles. Everything starts with the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists. Students from all over the world can find qualified and passionate teachers as well as the opportunity to specialise in a stimulating and creative form of art.
Many works by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists can be enjoyed while taking a walk in Spilimbergo. For example, near the institute, in Corte Europa, there is an interesting mosaic integrated into the architecture. In the internal patio, dominated by a mosaic column in the focal point, there are 26 mosaic pilasters, according to a project – “Europa” – developed by Giulio Candussio in 2001.
Outside Corte Europa, in piazzetta Walterpertoldo, there is the former cheese factory whose mosaic sign, dating back to 1931, was made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists and restored by Rino Pastorutti in 2005.
Mosaics by the Friuli School of Mosaic Artists are present in other three of the town’s landmarks. The first one is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore (in piazza Duomo), whose naves feature a beautiful terrazzo floor and the crypt, a delicate mosaic floor designed and made by the School in the mid-1960s. The entrance of the Town Hall is characterised by the Spengemberg mosaic, designed by Evelina Della Vedova. Finally, the Civic Library (in via Piave) houses a pair of mosaic panels depicting the town’s monuments, buildings, and unforgettable views. These panels were designed by Fred Pittino, who was the artistic director of the School from the Forties to the Seventies.
Moving on from the Civic Library towards the river pebble-paved piazza, through via XXIV Maggio, we get to the “Al Girasole” residential centre, which overlooks via Udine. The external wall of the northern side of this residential centre features a mosaic sun with an unusual shape, while the internal garden stands out for a mosaic stele that lives in the light. Both the sun and the stele have been designed by Giulio Candussio and made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists (1999). Moving west, in via Udine, there is the Spilimbergo Primary and Secondary School Complex, which has maintained a strong connection with the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists over the years through various projects, including mosaics made by children and guided school trips to the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists. You can admire the mosaics at the Bernardino Partenio school in via Udine: “Tree”, a wall mosaic made by middle school students, and “Work & Safety”, a mosaic stele made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists based on a sketch by middle school students. Even the Municipal Gym in via Mazzini features a cycle of wall mosaics depicting various sports. These mosaics were designed by Fred Pittino and made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists in the Sixties. Still in via Mazzini, you can admire the pretty and colourful mosaics by the primary school pupils – in collaboration with the School for Mosaic Artists – on the wall that marks the border with Villa Businello Park, which also features a monument dedicated to Blood Donors with a mosaic designed by Sergino Martina and made by the Travisanutto mosaic studio. Again in via Mazzini, on the external lateral wall of the Church of Saint Joseph and Saint Pantaleon, you can admire “The litanies of the Virgin Mary”, the wall mosaic made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists as a tribute to Mario Deluigi. This panel is characterised by geometric abstraction, and the pure and rigid breakdown of shapes made lively and vibrant by the mosaics.
Going down towards via XX Settembre, we come across the installation designed by Carlo Ciussi and made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists in 1999. Moving up again towards via Umberto I, we come across “Minotaur”, another three-dimensional mosaic designed by Vittorio Basaglia and made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists in 1996. Walking along via Umberto I, we come across “the Territory”, a mosaic panel that depicts views and places that don’t go unnoticed. The mosaic was designed by Stefano Jus and made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists in 2009 for the hall of the Banca di Credito Cooperativo. Further ahead, in the middle of a roundabout, is “2D Head”, and extremely impactful mosaic that certainly draws attention with its splendid green eyes. Returning towards the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists, in via Corridoni, near the War Memorial, we come across a mosaic panel dating back to 1928, designed by Umberto Martina and made by Gino Avon. Behind the monument is the Municipal Preschool, outside of which there is a mosaic depicting a tree made by the children with Giulio Candussio and the Eklektic Cultural Association of Spilimbergo.
Moving away from the town centre, we can find several other mosaics around the Hospital in via Raffaello. These include the cycle in the Hospital Church of Saint John of the Flagellants, which are floor and wall mosaics designed by Fred Pittino and made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists in 1962.
In the Favorita area, moving towards Tauriano, you can admire “Fire and Water”, a mosaic designed and made by Friedrich Dagmar in 2000 for the Fire Station in via Della Favorita. Nearby, in via degli Abeti, you can see a mosaic designed by Nane Zavagno at the Sports Centre, and another designed by Giulio Candussio in the hall of the Murrine Swimming Pool.
In Largo Caduti di Nassirya, you can admire the mosaic panels designed by Daniela Cantarutti and Arrigo Buttazzoni and made by the Friuli School for Mosaic Artists for the new Carabinieri headquarters.
It is worth stressing how the beauty and strength of mosaic art can integrate perfectly into an urban space making it unique. And Spilimbergo is a wonderful example.
Original Italian text by Danila Venuto