In the fight against depopulation, the town of Civitacampomarano, located in Italy’s underpopulated region of Molise, has taken up paint brushes and spray cans as its arms.
The town has fewer than 400 residents and seems to be on track for complete abandonment. To breathe life back into the waning community, Civitacampomarano has been inviting artists from around the world to participate in an annual street art festival.
The idea started back in 2014, when a local named Ylenia Carelli sent an email to Italian street artist Alice Pasquini asking her to come paint in Civitacampomarano. Not only was Pasquini willing to do so, but it so happened that her grandfather hailed from the town and was its doctor.
Today, Pasquini is the artistic director of the CVTà Street Fest. The event has seen three installments thus far, with the most recent one bringing in 7,000 visitors. The festivals are complete with live music, street food, and workshops, including ones dedicated to making cavatelli, the local pasta.
Locals have offered up the walls of their homes to artists from Brazil, Poland, Argentina, and Italy, who paint murals commemorating the history of the town. One mural painted in reverse negative and titled La Resistenza (The Resistance) by Argentinian artist Francisco Bosoletti features a number of women clawing toward the sky, a testament to the people of Molise and of Civitacampomarano who continue to resist and fight against depopulation. The artists are paid for their work, but one year most of them worked for free as a landslide had ravaged a large portion of the town.
While the town continues to see a decline in inhabitants, there are signs of change. A new ice-cream shop has opened, there’s an AirBnB in the town’s center, and more and more people are seen walking through Civitacampomarano.