Home Life & CultureThe 2009 L'Aquila Earthquake Art’s Tower of Strength for Santo Stefano di Sessanio
Charles Harris Campo Imperatore

Art’s Tower of Strength for Santo Stefano di Sessanio

by Sam Dunham

Santo Stefano di Sessiano

It is always great hearing about how people are helping individuals and communities recover from the L’Aquila earthquake; who knows, if we make a small mention it as well it may just stir another individual into positive action!

Recently we were in Santo Stefano di Sessanio meeting Rita Visioni, the owner & manager of Residence Villa Valsi, self-catering apartments in the village, and one of the founders of the Santo Stefano di Sessanio Onlus charity which residents of this Medici village have set up themselves to make sure that their beloved C13th tower is restored, despite the ongoing sagas involving any sort of restoration following the earthquake.

Thankfully Santo Stefano was one of the small towns whose residents didn’t suffer any major human tragedy, unless you count of course the economic impact of lack of tourism had on their businesses following the earthquake.  Many people were put off holidaying in an area that is nicknamed Little Tibet and which The Times had listed as one of the Top 10 Adventures of a Lifetime, an area beloved by walkers, photographers, artists and naturalists.  Slowly they are getting back on their feet financially as people forget or yet further global tragedies draw negative attention away from the area.

It does seems that Scottish artists are great at giving; back at the Art Auction we helped organise in London we arranged for , OBE & recipient of “Great Scot of the Year Award”, to kindly donate a piece and on this occasion helping out Santo Stefano di Sessanio charity we were introduced by Rita to another Scot, of a rather different artistic ilk, Charles Harris, founder of ‘New Traditional ™’ and beloved by the likes of Prince Charles and critic Brian Sewell, who is helping the charity.

Charles Harris Campo Imperatore

He is creating a classic Four Seasons set of paintings of Santo Stefano and its surrounding areas, we captured him working on one piece up towards Vado di Corno.  It is intended that once the set is finished they will be sold at one of the world’s leading auction houses, possibly in NY.  Mr Harris connected with the area just before the earthquake when he gave a set of art lectures at L’Aquila University; after he heard what had happened to the area he began looking for ways in which he could utilise his skills to help a community.

We admire his steely determination to help! Campo Imperatore which sits adjacent to ’s highest Apennine peak, the Corno Grande is not the warmest place to be mid- and to overcome the freezing conditions and act as a little shelter against the winds that whistle through, he sat in a horse box to paint.  When we visited in mid-April he had been enjoying a combination of sleet, snow and inescapable sunshine – perhaps not so different from Scotland!

Further Reading

To find out more about the click here

If you feel that you could do something similar to assist in raising funds contact the charity directly marked to the attention of Rita Visioni who speaks fluent English

To find out more about Charles Harris visit his website