Passareddu: A Creative Spark in Sicily

Artists using recycled materials to build Passareddu in Cianciana, Sicily. Photo by Hilary Arnold.
Artists using recycled materials to build Passareddu in Cianciana, Sicily. Photo by Hilary Arnold.

Passareddu: A Creative Spark in a Charming Sicilian Town

By Sarah Robertson

gonomad122214banner2Cianciana lights up each summer with laughter and love.

Something about the small, landlocked Sicilian town keeps both tourists and Italians coming back each season to share the vibrant culture, beautiful climate, and stunning landscapes with their families and friends.

Italians and tourists alike flock to the town in the thousands to share an experience.

“Cianciana is a picturesque town in the Southwest of Sicily with a population of 4000 people, breathtaking mountain views and a lovely warm climate,” says Olivia Thompson, president of Passareddu.

“The friendly, welcoming nature of the locals is a big attraction for foreigners along with its relaxed ambiance and cafe culture.”

Now a new generation of restless Italian artists from around the world is beginning to notice the magic of Cianciana. A team of artists and visionaries have created “Passareddu” (Sicilian for path) that has transformed the creative face of Cianciana.

A beautiful pasture in Cianciana. Photo by Olivia Thompson.
A beautiful pasture in Cianciana. Photo by Olivia Thompson.

Their vision is to give both local and traveling artists a place to live, work, and showcase their artwork in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Building Passareddu

Passareddu is an eco-friendly artist residency. Artists Scott Thompson and Fabrizio Riggio first had the idea for an artist residency that would be entirely made of recycled materials while visiting Cianciana.

They began recruiting their friends to help them with the project and found their family and friends were eager to help with their endeavor.

“After many years of living in Cianciana and traveling throughout Sicily, we have been captivated by the diversity of Sicily’s culture, art and cuisine,” says Scott Thompson.

“Cianciana has thousands of visitors a year, many are artists both local and traveling who come to Sicily for extended stays to work and soak in the culture and inspiration which is inescapable here.”

A Place for Artists

Capitalizing on the cultural melting pot that is Cianciana, the founders of Passareddu made a place for artists to bring together ideas from all over the globe.

Few places in the world have what Cianciana offers its artists: a beautiful landscape, a diverse group of artistic minds, and enough distance from the major metropolises let true creative expression flow.

“The depth of Sicilian culture is hugely influential to my work,” says Dave King, an artist and volunteer at Passareddu, “From the immense Arabic mosaics of the Norman Churches to the modern street-art of Palermo, from the architecture of the Ancient Greek temples to the contemporary works of local artists and artisans of Cianciana itself.

The Passareddu Artist Residency includes studio workspace, gathering and exhibition areas, and residencies for visiting artists.

The Building as Art

Artists living inside Passareddu continue working to expand and beautify the space after they move in.

The building in itself is a massive piece of art, continuously growing and changing like the creative minds within. Artists who want to share their skills and experience through classes and demonstrations are encouraged to apply to teach workshops at the residency as well.


The pallets used to make furniture and platforms for Passareddu. Photo by Marta Roversi.
The pallets used to make furniture and platforms for Passareddu. Photo by Marta Roversi

Upcycling For Art

“Our vision is  a living center where art, tradition, history and diversity of cultures combine to create a fresh experience and exchange, where nature is an integral part of artistic endeavor and ingenuity.”

“Recycling is our passion and reusing abandon items such as shipping containers and pallets to create our residency as well as the artwork is the focus of Passareddu.”

Original artwork by Dave King.
Original artwork by Dave King.

“Over recent years I have made a concerted effort to be more ‘eco-friendly’ by eating local and seasonal produce, reducing my personal water use, being more aware of the chemicals I use,” says Dave King.

“I strongly believe we all need to reduce, reuse and recycle for a more sustainable future.”

The Natural Charm of Cianciana

Located in southern Sicily between the cities of Agrigento and Sciacca, Cianciana is a remote village with a personality all its own.

It is a creative spark glowing in the shadows of Mount Calvario overlooking the Platani Valley in Sicily where breathtaking views are just a part of everyday life.

Just a 30-minute drive from the beautiful beaches surrounding Sciacca, Cianciana spoils its residents with beautiful mountain and ocean scenery.

The Clock Tower and Scaletta. Photo Hilary Arnold.
The Clock Tower and Scaletta. Photo Hilary Arnold.

The beautiful architecture of the town is reminiscent of old Sicily and adds to the rich character of the Cianciana.

Such diverse beauty in the scenery is a reflection of the diverse cultures and backgrounds of the people in Cianciana.

Old families and newcomers mingle on the streets of Cianciana at the many bars and cafés.

During the summer the town lights up with festivals and events that keep the streets lit late into the evenings.

Theater and music are celebrated extensively in the summer months in the supercharged creative atmosphere.

Summer Jump

For ten months of the year, Cianciana supports a population of 4,000, but during the summer the population jumps to over 10,000 as families return to stay with relatives and foreigners visit for the beautiful climate.

During the summers Cianciana comes alive with festivals and events that keep its residents entertained.

The town’s main industry is farming which provides the community with fresh eggs, fruit and vegetables daily. In the fall the olive harvest brings residents together, as does the orange season in the winter, the almond blossom festival in February, and the tomato harvest in September.

We Believe in Passareddu

Original work by Antonio Palminteri. 2014 "Transfiguration"
Original work by Antonio Palminteri. 2014 “Transfiguration”

Cianciana is fertile ground for the creative minds of Passareddu. .

“Passareddu has become a focal point of the community” says King, “We aim to connect creative people of all types – artists, artisans, musicians, writers, chefs, the elderly, children, tourists, locals and expats alike.”

Cianciana’s Place in the Heart

Perhaps it is not Cianciana that is magical, but the people who come to the town that make it so. Without the culture, farmers, families, and artists to celebrate the town’s beauty Cianciana would be nothing more than a few sun-soaked hills.

Passareddu celebrates the natural beauty of Cianciana, all the while looking forward and embracing every new artist and idea that comes its way.

Find out more about Passareddu

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Sarah Robertson is a reporter for a newspaper in Western Massachusetts. She was the Lifestyle editor for The Daily Collegian and AmherstWire. Follow Sarah On Twitter at @srobertson_17. 

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