Leonardo Meoni
Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena (SV), Liguria

Leonardo Meoni (Florence, 1994) lives and works in Florence and New York. He studied at the Art Institute in Siena, the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. He has exhibited in several solo and group shows in Italy and abroad, including: Place Holder, Amanita, New York (USA, 2022); Ars Memoriae, Palazzo Branciforte, Palermo (IT, 2022); Break-in. Temporal displacement, The Address gallery, Brescia (IT, 2022); Cancellare Senza Permesso, Spazio Amanita, Florence (IT, 2021); Outside of Inside of Outside, Safavi House, Isfahan (IR, 2021); and Sentences, Museo Novecento, Florence (IT, 2018).

Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena (SV)

Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, with just 140 inhabitants, is one of the ‘Borghi più Belli d’Italia’ (Most Beautiful Villages in Italy). Dating back to the Middle Ages and with its fairytale-like name, the small settlement resembles a stone flower blossoming in the upper Val Neva valley, comprising an imposing castle and the cluster of houses that were progressively constructed at its foot. Built in the 12th century, the castle served an important strategic function and it was severely damaged in 1672 in the clash between Genoa and the Savoys, in which mercenary Sebastiano Contrario took part. His name gave rise to the expression “essere un Bastian Contrario”, meaning always being opposed to general opinion. The village is characteristic for its old stone houses with tuff portals, featuring Alpine-Provençal motifs on the window frames, ovens, terraced roofs and arched roof floors where chestnuts, figs, apples and mushrooms were dried. Castelvecchio is a popular destination for its architecture, its proximity to the sea and its paths set in a unique landscape. These include the Sentiero della Poesia (Poetry Trail), the ancient Via del Roso (Roso Trail) or the Sentiero di Ilaria (Ilaria Trail), as well as the Poggio Grande and Rocca Barbena nature area, with the Alta Via dei monti liguri (high-altitude track of the Ligurian mountains) and the Arma Veirana cave where Palaeolithic burials have been found. The local cuisine is unmissable, with borage raviolini, rabbit allo steccadò (a herb similar to lavender) and apple fritters. The collection of Albissola ceramics at Ca' del Borgo is worth a visit and, in summer, the FestivAlContrario organises concerts, shows and walks to promote the Val Neva villages.