A preface: each month at the PGC, the interns take two trips as a group – one to a local place in Venice; one to outside of Venice, lovingly referred to as “the big trip.” The intern coordinators usually pick the destination and surprise us the week that we go. For April, our big trip was to Arte Sella, an outdoor sculpture trail at the base of the Dolomite Mountains.
If you have any interest in walking through beautiful mountain scenery or seeing innovative and experimental outdoor sculpture, you should make a pilgrimage here.
Our group chartered a private bus to make the three-hour trek from Venice (Troncetta bus station) to Borgo Valsugana, which is in the Trentino Region, where the Arte Sella site is located.
The journey was a twisty drive through the Italian countryside and up into the Dolomite Mountains. (The last bit of the drive was not for the faint of heart – the bus nearly took up the entire two-lane road).
If you have the option, I would recommend going by car to maximize the flexibility of your trip. This allows you to stop for pictures, explore small towns or stop for food or shopping. If you don’t have access to a car, the next best options are joining a group on a bus or taking the train to Borgo Valsugana Central.
The closest (bigger) towns to Arte Sella are Bolzano, Merano, and Verona. If you are based in any of these places, Arte Sella would be a lovely day trip from there.
The Trentino region is full of places to visit – both cultural and outdoor.
I recommend giving yourself a full day for this experience. 1-3 hours travel time both ways (depending on where you’re coming from), a few hours walking the trails, a picnic lunch or snack…
The trail in total is about 3 miles long and will take an average of about 3 hours to complete.
A little history of the site :
Arte Sella originally started as an informal experimental art space in 1986. A group of friends who lived in the region wanted to find a way to combine local culture, contemporary art, and nature in the forests of Val di Sella. In 1989, it became a formal establishment, branching out to international artists and other art organizations. Over the years, new trails and new works have been added and incorporated. Interestingly enough, when a season or cycle of exhibition ends, some of the pieces “on exhibit” are left to decompose and turn back into the earth that surrounds them; others are prepared to go into a gallery or be a part of a traveling show. There is something so ethereal and fleeting about a piece being left to go back into the earth.
From its beginning, Arte Sella wanted to enforce specific principles and guidelines to maintain the purity and beauty of the site.
- The artist is not the absolute protagonist of the artworks but accepts that nature completes his work.
- Nature must always be protected.
- The artwork placed on the grounds must be (mostly) made from natural materials; they come from nature and will return to nature (stone, leaves, branches, logs, etc.)
Living in Venice for the past month, I have found myself craving green space (Venice has very little). It’s an amazingly beautiful and serene place to stop and be present. Take a book to read, take a nap, hike the whole trail – whatever you do, you will leave feeling refreshed.
You can read more about specific artists and works here.