‘La Fontana Del Contadino’
Week 14 - ‘La Fontana Del Contadino’
A beautiful, and great, weeping willow tree stood in the middle of the ancient villa of San Lorenzo di Arzene, rising high above the plains of the Friuli region. The courtyard, similar to other rural villas of centuries past where peasant families would gather to socialize and draw water from the shared well, often became the driving force behind subsequent "urban planning." The weeping willow tree was located next to the perennial source of water; thus, it became the majestic centrepiece of the town square.
Unfortunately, many years ago, the tree was struck by a bolt of lightning and died as a result. It had to be broken apart and removed. The destruction of such a grand monument, that for so many generations had been the hub of activity, left a vacuum for the villagers. Its demise left more than just a literal hole in the landscape; the farming families missed the beauty and shade the landmark offered to those who had gathered under it - to quench their thirst, socialize, share news, and relax.
It is especially fitting then, that the idea for this fountain came to a group of villagers while they were quenching their thirst at the local bar. They wanted to build something that symbolized the agricultural countryside and the faithful labour of the farmers who worked the land. They also hoped to create a welcoming place for everyone to gather, get water, socialize and relax again.
‘La Fontana Del Contadino’ (translation: ‘The Farmer’s Fountain’) was constructed in the summer of 1979, near the same location the weeping willow tree used to grow. The church and school, seen on the left of the canal, are but two reasons to gather here. Many visitors to the courtyard can be seen drinking, or refilling water bottles, at the two water fountains that are located on either side of the canal. The canal runs through the entire village of San Lorenzo, providing irrigation for the surrounding farmland. Trees and benches surround the fountain and line the courtyard, providing shady spots to sit and rest. The fountain has a statue of a farmer, with a sickle leaning against his legs while he draws water from the vine leaf shaped basin of water. Until the construction of the fountain, the farmer had never really been the subject of artistic work in the community. Here, he is a solid representative of the unity, commitment, hard work and the focussed efforts of an entire population to realize a goal to improve upon their surroundings and restore beauty to the town square.
Little did they know they were constructing a series of portals for me to recognize and honour decades later: thirst quenching portals of community; connection; commitment; nature; resilience; tradition; artistry; learning; improving; growing.
Some of the information used to write this blog was, in part, derived from this website: http://www.prosanlorenzo.it/san-lorenzo/
As well, much gratitude goes to:
My mother-in-law, Giannina Zampa (nee: Villalta) and father-in-law, Beniamino Zampa, who were instrumental in providing many personal details for this and the previous 4 blogs on the San Lorenzo Portals.
Photo credit: Bev DePaoli – thanks for providing so many reference photos, from every possible angle.
Idea for the creation of this image: Sylvia Welsh