Festival delle Candele at Castello Svevo
A couple weeks ago some friends and I went to the Festival delle Candele at the Svevo Castle in Cosenza. The castle is already enchanting on its own, but this festival, in its first edition, made it even more magical. The castle, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the city of Cosenza, turned off its artificial lights and was completely lit up with candles. Every corner and crevice was home to a small candle that perfectly set the tone for the festival.
Although the event took place over two evenings, we decided to go Saturday evening even though we knew it would probably be busier. However, the installations were set up in a way that created a lovely flow throughout the castle so even though there were so many people in attendance, you didn’t feel like it was overcrowded and it didn’t take away from the vibe of the event.
We crammed ourselves into the shuttle that would take us up to the castle. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I stepped off the bus in front of the main gates to the castle. It was my first time visiting the castle that I had always admired from below.
We bought our tickets and made our way up to the front entrance.
Sala del Ricevimento
Our first stop was the Sala del Ricevimento. On display were works by artists Christian Cosentino and Domenico Grosso.
Sala Delle Armi
We passed through the large Courtyard and made our way to the Sala Delle Armi. Inside was a “Light Art Installation” entitled “LUCIDAmente”. The artist used candles to recreate five important symbols of the City of Cosenza:
Sala del Trono
We continued through the castle and made our way to the Sala del Trono. As we entered, we could see large shadows on the walls. They were part of an artistic installment by Carmelo Rago and Paloma Rodera Martinez known as “Plato’s Cave”.
I was curious to find out why the installment was called Plato’s Cave. I had never studied Plato at school so I wasn’t familiar with the concept. Plato was a Greek philosopher and the idea of Plato’s Cave was first mentioned in one of his works. It talked of a group of prisoners facing a blank wall. They watch shadows that are projected onto this blank wall by objects that pass in front of a fire behind. For them, the shadows are their reality, as they know no different. It’s not until they are freed from the cave that they learn that the shadows are not reality at all.
In the Courtyard, the chefs from Maccaroni Chef Academy were cooking and putting on a little bit of a show for us while we waited.
We enjoyed a delicious plate of pasta while listening to a mix of electronic and acid jazz music by Alessio Calivi, which was accompanied by video projections dancing on a large display.
After something to eat we went upstairs, first stopping in a small room showcasing an interesting piece called “Rinascita Termodinamica” by Christina D’Alia. In the center of this moving art installation is a sculpture of a woman made of wax. Over the two evenings, the sculpture surrounded by fire began to melt and transform. Fire is life and energy and is intricately presented through this dynamic work of art.
We reached the top of the stairs and passed through the doors leading onto the terraces. A large crowd surrounded a fire dancer. After the performance, the crowd dispersed and we decided to walk around the terrace and admire the incredible view of Cosenza.
The night ended with a final farewell to the moon. The beautifully choreographed performance brought together the “moving souls”, the group of cloaked women who moved mysteriously throughout the castle with only a lantern to guide their way. As the melodic music of Ludovico Einaudi’s song “Divenire” played, the “moving souls” moved around the castle with lit up Chinese lanterns which floated up into the sky as they were released, one by one!
I have never been to an event like this, and I have to say it left a lasting impression on me. The castle was the perfect setting for an event like this. I think the success of this first edition of the festival has opened the doors to a bigger and more elaborate festival in the near future.
The next day, the local news broadcast talked about the success of the event and wouldn’t you know, my friends and I were caught on camera. We had a good feeling we would show up on video somewhere because everywhere we turned there seemed to be a camera pointing in our direction.
Here’s the video, you can see us walking by admiring the installations at the 1:05 mark.