SARMEDE – The Fairy Tales’ Town

Wed, 11/16/2011 - 08:58

“Once upon a time a man arrived in a very small village clung upon a mountain. He only had an old suitcase and looked very hungry. A boy, sitting on the doorstep of the church eating an apple, smiled at him and without a word offered him the half eaten fruit. The man sat next to the boy and, with watering eyes, gave a bite to the apple. He didn’t know a single word in the boy’s language but wanted to thank him for his generosity. So he opened his shabby luggage and started to hum a cheerful tune. Suddenly a neat row of pastels rolled out from the suitcase and started to march in the little square in front of the church. The boy looked up at the man with amazement. The man’s eyes were kind and under his beard a warm smile was peeping. The boy smiled too because smiles don’t need words to be understood. And together they started to paint every wall in the town.”

I think Štěpán Zavřel would have loved to illustrate my little story. He was born in Prague, in 1932, and lived in Rugolo di Sàrmede from 1968 until the day he passed away in February 1999.

He was one of the most important and representative European illustrators in the last thirty years. An extraordinary artist with an inventive skill that involved not only illustration but also architecture, decoration, scenography and creating frescoes which even today can be admired in the streets of Sàrmede. He co-conceived the idea for the Le immagini della fantasia Exhibition and founded the International School of Illustration.

Zavrel Stepan

Le Immagini della fantasia ( is an international event which aims to bring illustration - often perceived as a minor art - to the public eye as well as its multitude of styles. The first event was in 1983 and immediately became an annual meeting with an ever-increasing success. During these years the Exhibition has shown over 300 works of art from countries all over the world and has taken its numerous visitors on a fabulous journey through the fanciful imagination of each country.

The International School of Illustration is at the heart of the Exhibition and brings out considerable creative energy: from the artists who teach and pass on the most stimulating aspects of their own personal experiences and from the pupils who bring to the School new ideas and an intense desire to learn the art of illustration.

The Exhibition is constantly on the move. Since 1991, it has travelled all over the world, from Sàrmede to prestigious centres such as Madrid, Genoa, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Ljubljana, Lisbon, Seville, Salzburg, Vienna, Istanbul, Naples, Monza, Stuttgart, Siena, Rome, Florence, Bratislava, Verona and Vicenza.

School of Illustrastion

The Exhibition usually takes place from late October until December and during three Sundays – two were in October and one will be on 27th November - Sàrmede is transformed into a fairy land thanks to the efforts of the Pro Loco that runs Le Fiere del Teatro every year an event that involves the entire town from 10am to 18.30pm.

The streets and the square of Sàrmede offer a unique atmosphere, colored by dozens of attractions where you will meet fire-eaters, puppeteers, stilt walkers, jugglers, acrobats and other bizarre characters. A show that has been repeated for over twenty years and continues to charm and attract thousands of children and families. The village become a huge theatre. You enter the fair passing through colourful sets, representing the theatre drapes, that make you feel as if you are leaving normality behind and allow you to join the fantasy world. In addition to the street shows and stalls, numerous creative workshops are held in a big tent for children and for those who would like to be a child for one day. At every corner you will find storytellers and musicians, clowns and mimes and all kinds of attractions: from graffiti artists to rock walls to climb and even a small planetarium.

But not everything is built around children.

In the area of ​​'Le buone cose' Pro Loco offers local products as well as biscuits and cakes cooked following the traditional recipes. There is also a trade show with over a hundred exhibitors: hobbyists and artisans offering handmade toys, shirts, puppets, puzzles, sculptures, wood products, wax, cloth... The organizers are proud of the high quality of the merchandise, always chosen for their cultural value. You won’t see any big brand or banners in this fair trade show.

A feast for young and old, prepared with love and attentiveness. The parking area is outside the town - there is a shuttle service though – and during those days Sàrmede is closed to traffic. As you well know, fantasy runs faster without cars


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