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The Po, a River, the River

by /// April 14, 2022
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

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The river meanders through the Po Valley, from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea, like an electrical wire.
Its path crosses that of the current via Emilia, that from the sea of Rimini winds towards Piacenza and the Po river.
Indeed, the Emilia Romagna region is defined by these two lead threads, forging daily life and, accordingly, its history.

Both of them are communication routes and, as always happens, they shape the lives of the people around them.

Paolo Simonazzi dedicates an exhibition as well as a book to the Po, titling them The Thread and the River.
The exhibition is on at Palazzo Pigorini in Parma.

  • San Zenone Al Po (PV), 2020_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • San Rocco di Boretto (RE), 2016_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Pontecchio Polesine (RO), 2019_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Pomponesco (MN), 2018 copia_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Monticelli D_Ongina (PC), 2020_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Luzzara (RE), 2020_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Gualtieri (RE), 2015_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Comacchio (FE), 2013_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Cà Venier di Porto Tolle (RO), 2018_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Brancere di Stagno Lombardo (CR), 2015_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Bergantino (RO), 2017_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Castello di Montechiarugolo – Castelli del Ducato – Emilia

The Flow and the Rhytm

Francesco Zanot, in his critical contribution to the catalogue (published by Silvana Editoriale) invites us to listen to “a high-fidelity recording of the feeble song of a supra-territorial essence that challenges political geography, clinging as it does to the wobbly waterline for hundreds of kilometres”.

Softly and without emphasis the images by Simonazzi transport us through the territories where the river Po flows, the River par excellence of the Po Valley. They describe landscapes, people and events thanks to an unconventional framing. His shots depict the life with a disarming, though significant, simplicity

To anyone who knows the area of the Po, his shots appear genuine, evoking the atmosphere and places, while transporting the viewer within the life of this very territory.
The river doesn’t appear in every picture, though you can always feel it.

It’s explored “by “subtraction,” usually excluding the very image of water” in order to “try to investigate how far the river’s identity can intrude into the “hinterland”, Davide Papotti writes in the book.

Gualtieri (RE), 2015_01 - Il filo e il fiume - © Paolo SImonazzi
Gualtieri (RE), 2015_01 – Il filo e il fiume – © Paolo SImonazzi

Inspiration

Simonazzi is inspired by the American photographer Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi, a 2004 survey carried out along the course of the biggest river basin of North America.

The title, The Thread and the River, is referred to the album The river and the thread (2014) by Rosanne Cash: the American musician (who is Johnny Cash’s daughter), traces the American South in search of the past and her family’s memories.
Paolo Simonazzi compares the Po to another river with a great tradition, closing the loop. In fact, ancient civilizations have risen along the rivers, the American society itself was born by the rivers and its own rivers have been sung in its ballads, photographed and recounted.

A book and an exhibition dealing with the Po river remind us that Italy, Emilia Romagna and the other regions bathed by this river have made history and that their traditions still bear the distinguishing traits of our daily life.

The exhibition is curated by Ilaria Campioli and Andrea Tinterri, with the support of the Associazione Bondeno Cultura (ABC), with the patronage and in collaboration with the Municipality of Parma within the context of Parma Capitale della Cultura 2020-21.

  • Pomponesco (MN), 2018 copia_01 - Il filo e il fiume - © Paolo SImonazzi
  • Cà Venier di Porto Tolle (RO), 2018_01 - Il filo e il fiume - © Paolo SImonazzi

Ghosts and Castles

As a land rich in history and traditions, in Emilia Romagna, you cannot but include ghosts.
After seeing the exhibition, reading the book through, wandering and shooting along the banks of the Po, would you like to experiment something different, we can suggest you a special excursion.

Indeed, you can visit one of the many “haunted” castles of the Region. There are about twenty castles in Emilia Romagna with their own local ghost. Twelve of them (all part of the Castles of the Duchy) are located in the former territory of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza.
And in what is today the Province of Parma there are the Castles of: Montechiarugolo, where the gentle ghost of Fairy Bema flutters, Bardi, Torrechiara. There are also the Pallavicino di Varano de’ Melegari castle, the Rocca dei Rossi di San Secondo, and the Rocca di Soragna.

So, there is plenty of material for a nice day, with a photographic and historical itinerary, with maybe a special trophy: a selfie with the ghost.

Castello di Montechiarugolo - Castelli del Ducato - Emilia
Castello di Montechiarugolo – Castelli del Ducato – Emilia

Info
Paolo Simonazzi. Il filo e il fiume.
Palazzo Pigorini, Strada della Repubblica 29/a, Parma
March 26th – May 8th, 2022

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