Francisco Navarrete Sitja and Andrés Gallardo two Town Ambassador for Licenza
Francisco Navarrete Sitja and  Andrés Gallardo two Town Ambassador for Licenza

“Poetry will save the world”, word of Francisco and Andres da Civitella di Licenza

Everyone in the Aniene Valley knows Francisco Navarrete Sitja and Andrés Gallardo, ordinary people as well as mayors. They come from Chile and have been living in Civitella for some years, the hamlet of Licenza born around a castle on one of the most inaccessible peaks of the Lucretili Mountains.

To define Civitella we can mention the famous movie 'Where eagles dare', because it is one of the few places in Italy where golden eagles nest and local social life revolves around their beauty.

Francisco and Andres have founded an artist residence and are making this tiny village flourish again. Civitella had 10 inhabitants in winter and 200 in summer and now has several artists who live here for months.

When the mayor Ilaria Passacantilli informed me of the decision to appoint Francisco and Andres as Town Ambassadors of License, she praised their work, but getting to know them opened up a world of poetry for me.

Ilaria is engaged in the tourist rebirth of her beautiful License and has enthusiastically welcomed this communication project. She supports all the activities and the municipal hostel is always full of artists, such as the Argentinian Maria Eugenio Cordero who came this week to start collaborations with Patagonia.

When we made the appointment, they invite me to eat with the whole community who get together for a sort of 'small festival' with friends on Corpus Domini day.



Ilaria Passacantilli, Mayor of Licence

Ilaria Passacantilli, Mayor of Licence

I arrived in Civitella and reached the large outdoor table, Francisco came up to me and offered me a plate of pasta “today is a special day. We are preparing the’ infiorata’ (flower carpet in the square) and you also can meet my parents who have come to visit me from Chile".

I sit at the table and immediately meet the deep and moved gaze of Francisco's father. An infinite serenity. He is so proud and happy with what his son is doing and still so tender with his wife that when they talked, they touched hands.


Hands clasped

“Civitella reminds me a bit of Chile, we too are in the mountains. Of course, the Andes are more impressive but the life of small villages is the same. Perhaps because I grew up in the village in the summer with my grandmother, I feel at ease in the mountains".

Intrigued by an outside person who arrived asking questions and taking notes, Giacomo Restante approached the table. He is an architect who works at the superintendence (the public office which deals with ancient monuments) and has managed over 50 archaeological sites works among the most important Roman such as the Domus Aurean and the Villa dei Quintili. He is also a good host and endorsed Francisco and Andres from his point of view:

They entered Civitella and the valley in a natural and harmonious way, and with their art they gave unique emotions involving everyone. Like the performance of the bell ringers from Santiago who created a musical composition that was played by the bell towers of Percile, Civitella, Licenza and Roccagiovine.

Corpus Domini
Corpus Domini
Civitella's  tapestry



The bells have their own intonation and the musicians Sebastian Jatz and Brantmayer of the Campaneros de Santiago group from Chile  have studied them to make them play together making an ancestral but modern music vibrating in the air. They also made them play in honor of Luciano Romanzi and the victims of Covid with a composition by Jatz .

Another project involved many inhabitants of the Aniene Valley, is the 6 x 3-meter collective tapestry where over 150 people from many different towns worked together. Each one embroidered her/his town under the guidance of artist Daniela Pizarro from Chile.

Franciso and Andres have a long history, they organized and managed over 34 artist residencies before deciding to create their own in Italy looking for a small mountain town. They were working in Barcelona and then in the Pyrenees when they came to visit an artist friend of theirs in Tivoli. She gave them the house in Civitella to carry out their project.

While living in Italy they continue to lecture at the university, Andres studied industrial design and teaches at the IED in Barcelona and Madrid. Their secret is precisely this union of poetry and pragmatism: Francisco is a storyteller but Andres is the organizer who makes everything happen.

“Working in internal areas is like writing a poem, we have to restore meaning to areas that are losing it. All art projects are also social projects involving the local community” and they successfully apply this to everything they do.

So, after their arrival Simone, a 22-year-old Italian boy, and his partner Llanella from Peru opened a home restaurant. And again: many citizens rent their homes to artists and a small bar was able to reopen its doors.


Simone home restarant in Civitella

They introduce me to everyone while Francisco's father never leaves us for a minute, always with shining eyes. He told me a story that occured to him: "One day I went to attend an exhibition in Santiago and I was attracted by a dark room where you had to take a light bulb to discover the writings and other details that the artist wanted to communicate. I spent all my time in this room and when I went out, they told me it was the installation my son had created”.

I left Civitella full of love and with the certainty that they are the perfect Town Ambassadors for Licenza and will be able to help many others in this great project of communicating the beauty and poetry of the Aniene Valley.

Thanks for the wonderful day to the hosts, to the Monte Pellecchia association, Mario and Giacomo who are proudly from Civitella, and to Mario who manages the association's bar, to the agricultural university and to all the volunteers who prepared the lunch: the community works if everyone does their part”.

Follow the initiatives of Franciso and Andres on the Permanent Festival of Artistic Research

and on social network 



Written by:
Claudia Bettiol

Engineeer, futurist, joint founder of Energitismo and founder of Discoverplaces. Consultant for the development and promotion of the Touristic Development of Territories specialising in...

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