Cast your eyes over Consenza’s charming medieval Norman-Swabian Castle, illuminated by over 5,000 magical candles…
The Festival delle Candele (Festival of Candles) is held at the Castello Normanno Svevo in Cosenza’s Centro Storico (Old Town). In the second year since the festival’s inception, this is a spectacular but also surreal event attended by many Cosentini.
Piano B – Event Project Management organises this dreamy gathering, which this year is held between the 11th-12th May, and involves artistic and cultural events.
From the Cosenza Centro train station, public buses (€1,50 return) run every hour to the castle. Although if you walk up through the old town until you reach Piazza XV Marzo and at the front of Teatro Alfonso Rendano, the public bus picks up every fifteen minutes.
Although public buses to and from the castle are increased over the two days, walking the forty-minutes up the hill via the roadway is a great way to see more. This route sees a steady incline, although towards the end of the walk, the incline becomes quite steep.
You can cut straight up through the Old Town but this way is via many steep steps. Typically, the steps are the best way to walk back down from the castle.
Charming Castle Entrance
After paying your €6 entry fee (usually €4 without an event), you are free to wander throughout the castle and grounds at will, and until the end of the performances around midnight, or later.
To greet you at the castle’s entrance, two musicians elegantly-dressed in period costume play ethereal-sounding ancient harps. This serene chamber music sets the medieval mood within the castle’s entrance lit by hundreds of tealight candles paves the way for what is to unfold.
The entrance is also graced with one of the atmospheric fire dancers, merging the art of fire with the aged castle whilst in a bygone traditional dress era.
As you move deeper into the soaring timeworn stone walls, the traditional Renaissance and Celtic music, pieces from the designer and musician Tommaso Muto swirl around you creating a ghostly atmosphere. The talented harpists Maria Cristina Chiarelli and Stefania Binetti, hail from The Conservatory of Music (Stanislao Giacomantonio).
Enchanting Candle exhibits
With every Gothic room and niche you encounter, thousands of tealights placed around a foot apart project a soft glow that dances around paths, corners, and alcoves to illuminate and brighten unlit areas of sculptures. An eerie and surreal ambience.
Continuing the dimly lit walk to the Sala delle Armi, extensive shadows bounce around the stone walls creating a tranquil and diffused backdrop for the unusual Riflessi di Ombre by Fio Marino. A mixture of old versus new with antiquated battle scenes, circus life performances, and everyday life settings are reflected as a backdrop of contrasting scenarios.
Obscured lit sculptures adorned with vibrant colours and studded with tiny holes, allow candle light through the bodice, creating a glazed patterned masterpiece.
The video Naked Flames by video maker Orazio Garofalo, projected on a wall and continually playing throughout the evening, displays an “eruption of bodies in a moving-picture conceived on the incendiary body-soul sensuality”. Look carefully for the bodies and faces.
The opportunity to play Draughts (Checkers) with any willing opponent on a massive board splayed out on the castle’s stone floor, with tealight candles in tiny jars as the playing pieces, is also available.
Wandering up the candle-lit stairs and to the lantern-lit rooftop of this gorgeous castle, you can indulge in the reading of constellations, or a lesson in celestial objects and related myths. Huge telescopes by the Astrophiles Menkalinan group are strategically placed on the rooftop for your education.
This festival also holds many excellent and educational events for children – facial expressions and wide eyes recount the story of an amazing night.
As with the Calabrese obsession with food, there is always some sort of food demonstration at any festival in Cosenza and tonight is no different.
With the “Food Experience” demonstration by the Macaroni Chef Corrado Rossi, watch a master at his craft (same company, different chef demonstrating as at my Cerisano exhibition). Then, indulge in a delicious picante southern Italian pasta dish (€5) or a heavenly panino draped with the local delicacy Caciocavallo (cheese) with local spicy sausage or slivers of prosciutto (5 euros). Why not wash all that down with an excellent glass of local wine at just €2.50?
Within the castle’s walls and also in the Atrio Garden, re-enactments of Jedi Knights cloaked in ominous black-hooded robes create mystery whilst sparring with illuminated sabres.
Mesmerising fire dancers and jugglers Fuoco & Clownerie: Francesco Cane and street artist Maria Dolores perform their Fuoco Su Notte craft, to reminiscent 1940s music. I put together a couple of videos as I really enjoyed watching these guys – quite relaxing.
See what you think of this one…
Actress/performer Tonia Mingrone curls around a suspended ring performing gymnastics and acrobatics, whilst adorned in pure white and topped with dainty angel wings: Poetic Suspensions. Only a quick taste in this very short video.
If you find yourself in Cosenza in May, definitely keep an eye out for this wonderful event as it really is worth going to, even with children. Piano B – Event Project Management have thought of everything to make this a special and memorable evening.
I am sure you will love the castle’s ambience during this festival as it is exciting but simultaneously peaceful, displaying many innovative aesthetic creations.