DIPPED IN RAINBOWS DOZZA Sunil Deepak, Nov. 2005

In a country where medieval towns with quaint castles are a dime a dozen, how do you make sure that tourists don't miss you? Simple, you dip the town in colours of rainbow and hey presto, you have tourists flocking around, going crazy with their cameras. That is what happened in Dozza, a small medieval Borgo about 30 km from Bologna in northern Italy.

It has a lovely small castle belonging to the Marquis of Malvezzi-Campeggi since 1500s. The last heir to the marquis family died in 1960. Nestled at the top of the gentle hills covered with vineyards, the town has ancient pebbled streets that go and down towards the castle. With 6,000 mostly aging population, young ones leaving the town to go to Bologna, Dozza was in obvious decline.

Perhaps the inspiration came from the wonderfully coloured havelis of Rajasthan and the town decided to reinvent itself. They decided that they will have a unique selling point, making their town a vast open-air art gallery. Initially the local artists were asked to make paintings outside on the walls of the houses and the town started to become famous. People came to look at the strange houses with paintings. Now it holds a painting festival every two years in September. Two or three famous painters and sculpters are invited and asked to give free rein to their imagination.

Result is a wonderful mix of styles and colours. Every corner has a surprise. My favourite is the painting of a farmer family sitting around a table, curtains around a window, fire burning in winter evening, and a languid cat looking down at you curiously. But there is enough to satisfy every all tastes. The castle has been converted into a museum and in its basement there is a wonderful vine boutique, stocking and selling hundreds of vines from the surrounding hills.

Here are some pictures from Dozza.

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