Names and Destinies

How the Paganinian Festival of Carro was born

The names are numina, divinity, visions and, in a broad sense, they can also be considered destinies. Destinies that can proceed at a slow pace or at a steady pace on parallel roads and that will never be able to meet and others that manage to cross each other and become a story.
The history of the Paganinian Festival of Carro is that of a network of friends that over time, with passion and generosity, has also been transformed into a project, managing to connect, with invisible threads, places and people, united by love for the Val of Vara, for its people, culture and music.
The Paganinian Festival of Carro is a name, and therefore a destiny, which continues to pass from mouth to mouth, from country to country, from city to city. And it is a name that in turn recalls other names: names of an ancient place such as Carro and of an icon of culture, such as that of Niccolò Paganini, whose destinies have crossed since the ancestors of the most famous violinist of all time , centuries ago, they chose to live in this village perched in the Ligurian Apennines. Who knows where they came from. The surname Paganini seems to have at least three stocks, one of which in eastern Liguria, and a possible ancestor peeps out from the distant 13th century: Paganino da Sarzana, a singular and unknown character, poet and rhyming writer of great perfection in the Vulgate, influenced by lyric Provencal.
If many of his writings were preserved by the famous Florentine Francesco Redi, it was G.B. Spotorno recalling him in the Literary History of Liguria, published in 5 volumes in Genoa in 1858. Here, however, it is interesting to remember that when two or more words meet and unite to form another – the riddles teach – they become a charade, they become something else. They become, as happened with the Paganiniano di Carro Festival, a beautiful adventure made up of encounters, emotions, suggestions, views, landscapes, lights, sounds, flavors that many did not know and that others believed to have disappeared. With the project of the Paganiniano di Carro Festival, it was not only words that came together, but visions and wills that were able to create an event to which all the Friends of the Festival have given and continue to give invaluable help.
The Festival was born, ideally, on a beautiful day in early December 2001 when in Carro, for the first time, there was the meeting of the Ligurian Proloco, strongly desired by Carmen Breschi, in those years president of the Pro Loco di Carro, of which Teresa Paganini De Lucchi was the irreplaceable vice president. It was on that occasion, as often happens when different people meet and exchange impressions, that the idea was outlined to re-propose for the following summer some concert dedicated to Niccolò Paganini as had already been done in past years, in an episodic way. and not continuous. To help all of us who were part of the board of the Pro Loco at the time to carry out this project was, together with the Society of Concerts of La Spezia, also the Amici di Paganini association of Genoa which, in February 2002, accepted the invitation of come and spend a day in Carro. The president Enrico Volpato and the then vice president Enrico Belloni agreed with Gabriella Arbasetti, at that time Councilor for Culture of the Municipality of Carro, to think, in the context of what was beginning to take the form of the “Paganinian Festival of Carro”, under the aegis of the Pro Loco, a concert that would take place in the Paganini alley.
On the evening of July 22, in a suspended atmosphere and with emotion bordering on disbelief, many of us attended the inauguration of that event, which was still tiny, but already grandiose.
The Friends of Paganini Association of Genoa opened the event with Neli Mocinova on violin and Christian Giraudo on guitar, who played music by Niccolò Paganini, Astor Piazzola, Jacques Ibert, Manuel De Falla.
The La Spezia Concerts Society, on the evenings of 7 and 9 August, continued with the violinists Valerio Giannarelli and Cristiano Rossi, the guitarist Stefano Bartolommeoni, the pianist Marco Vincenzi and music by Paganini, Listz, Beethoven; great success then, on the evening of the 11th, “Via Gattamora!” – Niccolò’s birthplace – the theatrical and musical show by Luigi Maio, the volcanic author and actor of a satirical reinterpretation of Paganini’s life. Finally, the Alta Valle del Vara Concert Center concluded that first cycle of performances with a piano concert performed by Maestro Fernando Mainardi.
The following year, in 2003, thanks once again to the interest and help of Piergino Scardigli, then president of the La Spezia Chamber of Commerce, the project was able to continue. From that moment on, the concerts were only organized by the La Spezia Concerts Society, whose vice-president Ernesto Di Marino has always strongly believed in the project of a Paganinian Festival. The three shows always took place in the Paganini alley, very suggestive and authentic, but logistically difficult to manage. In the summer of 2004, with the support of the mayor of the time, Gino De Mattei, who even managed to convince the parish priest Don Otello not to let the bells ring during the shows, the three concerts were moved to the beautiful town square where, every year, continue to unfold. Since 2005 the Paganiniano di Carro Festival, in addition to finding an extra friend in the Isagro company, the main sponsor, has become itinerant, taking the concerts to other villages in the Val di Vara: Beverino, Bolano, Brugnato, Calice al Cornoviglio, Maissana, Mattarana- Carrodano, Sesta Godano, Riccò del Golfo, Suvero- Rocchetta Vara, Porciorasco-Varese Ligure; to the sea in Bonassola and in Val di Magra in Arcola, Nicola di Ortonovo, in Ponzano al Monte, in Santo Stefano Magra, but also in Levanto and Vernazza. In these “new places” the Festival has found other friends, many of whom are now part of the Friends Association of the Paganiniano di Carro Festival, created in 2007 and open, as stated in the Statute, to all those who wish to help promote the Festival and to enhance the territory. Since the first edition of the Festival many things have changed in Val di Vara. A welcoming culture has been strengthened, new structures and new economies have been born.
Old houses have been restored which risked being abandoned and destroyed. An ancient wine has also returned to be produced and sold. Old paths have been cleaned up and many of its villages have become a destination for those who want to know and enjoy the flavor of sincere relationships. To say that this was a result of the Festival may perhaps seem risky. Surely the Festival has contributed to it, proving how culture – if ever confirmation is still needed – is an extraordinary tool not only to create development, but to encourage new encounters and moments of happiness. This is proved by the success of the public not only of the Festival, but of all the cultural events that the area offers in different places. To conclude, in view of the next editions of the Festival and the future initiatives of the Association, all that remains is to entrust ourselves to the Latin mottos that better than any other explanation are able to express what the Paganinian Festival of Carro was, is and will be: audacia nos ducat, comite fortune. May audacity lead us, if luck wants to be our companion.

Monica Amari Staglieno
President of the Association of Friends of the Paganinian Festival of Carro