In order for a real, physical place to maintain its symbolic relevance alongside its architectural shape, its space must be open – with precise exchanges between material and transcendental reality. I realize intuitively and suddenly that here – at the Rocca di Staggia – I am in one of these places. Donatella is the link between these two worlds – and so I can ask her for her account of it.

VL: Good morning Donatella, when we first met you drew a circle on the ground with a stick. What did that mean?
DB: Tracing concentric circles with a rake has a functional premise, and at the same time evokes the conceptual vision of the Rocca: architecture, in the avant-garde between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, going beyond the theme of security, to give life to an ideal space, built to the measure of man, in the image of the Universe.
Here the gravel courtyards are reminiscent of Zen gardens and raking becomes an artful gesture that unites earth and sky, tracing the shape of the Universe in which we walk.
VL: La Rocca is located along the route of the ancient Via Francigena: a spiritual path, of purification if you like…
DB: The Rocca di Staggia is a crossroads of ancient pilgrim routes, between East and West, intertwining stories and lives and has always welcomed interrogations and knowledge that renew its vision and identity. Castle, container and content, it’s not mere real estate to be kept unchanged over time, but a dynamic architecture to be crossed with a new look, renewing its identity.
VL: Can you tell us about the “Green Castle” project?
DB: Starting from History-Memory to build contemporary itineraries: this is the project I developed for this historical/contemporary space which, open to the public since 2010, hosts innovative experiences and research on the artistic, environmental, technological level, local and international super-products, articulating an intervention with exhibitions, events, interactive visits, workshops, installations, multisensory tastings, excursions around the local area.
VL: La Rocca is a real Center for Contemporary Art. How is a visit to the Rocca, its rooms and settings structured?
DB: Inside and outside the walls the Rocca is a dispersed museum, a travelling space. In Le città invisibili by Italo Calvino, it is Marco Polo, the foreigner who comes from afar and speaks an unknown language who reveals to Kublai Khan an empire he possesses but does not know. In the space of the Rocca are artists who, invited to read and rewrite the place, reveal each time with their poetics the secret soul of the castle. Involved in actions-understandings of space, each one gives life to unique correspondences, between their own work and the memory of the place. Installations interact with the Rocca’s different environments, accompanying us in an emotional crossing of spaces and works that awakens wonder.
VL: And the massive, bewitching web on its western flank?
DB: The castle is not made of stones alone, but of relationships, which the visitor-travellers weave. La Rocca weaves a ‘Spider Web of Light’, which is at the same time lightweight architecture and road network: the memory of the ancient paths, dirt roads that wind and light the way.

Donatella Bagnoli’s installation from 2014 still continues to engage visitors: we receive a white ball of wool – a reminder that we are not only architecture but also path and journey – and like spiders we weave as we go. It is our life hanging by a thread, which unfolds, guides us, binds us. Like our first bond the umbilical cord.
For more information on visits and activities at the Rocca di Staggia contact Donatella Bagnoli
at 336 4792092/ info@laroccadistaggia.it/ www.laroccadistaggia.it