Pescocanale: Murals, Migration and a Beating Heart

A superb collection of murals by has been unveiled in Pesconale (AQ), depicting a polemic subject in Italy and the world at the moment. It’s a study of humans leaving for a better life and their return if it wasn’t, no tags of legal or illegal, just people.  Here’s a little more about 4 of them from the artist Mauro Sgarbi.

Mauro Sgarbi 2023


The work represents a ship sailing for America. You admire the presence on the pier of a woman saying farewell to her man departing for the USA which is depicted by the presence of the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

The human figures are deliberately left without detail to represent spaces in which each observer can insert, imagining them, the faces of his own beloved ones.

The concept of this mural was taken from the side altar dedicated to San Michele, where is written “Americans 1907”, testimony to the departure of migrants from the village and the discovery, the remittance pages on Ellis Island recording and showing names of citizens from the village, and of the migrants from Valle Roveto, in transit on the island at the beginning of the 1900s.  The ship represented is the REX, the transatlantic pride of our navy.


Maupal 2023

“Ulisse”Maupal 2023

Maupal 2023

The work represents a suitcase or all the suitcases of migrants.  It is an inanimate object, but its appearance tells the many
journeys made, the many times it was made, undone and sadly lived.

In the centre of a migrant’s suitcase is a heart-shaped void, testifying how it is possible that everything of assumed value is crammed inside, all that is necessary for the trip is there, but never the heart, the love of the home country, of the family that wait for the return. The heart space will always be empty.

To reinforce the nostalgia of the migrant for views they hold dear the distant mountains seen from the Roveto Valley.

“Dishuman Island”
Mauro Sgarbi 2023

“Dishuman Island” Mauro Sgarbi 2023

The title picked for this mural, “Dishuman Island” is deliberately strong, as it wants to immediately remember the way these migrants of ours were considered on arrival.

The work is presented as an image with multiple fires.  In the background on the right are our colourful mountains, a bell tower that represents the daily rural life that had been given up. An indefinite series of grey appears on the left, the buildings in New York.

In the foreground, as in a scene created in a “piano sequence” the melancholy of departure is represented, and the arrival at Ellis Island and the subsequent dehumanisation of the migrant who becomes a working animal, but keeping alive in their pulsating heart their nostalgia and love for their own land.

“Pane e Cioccolata”
Maupal e Mauro Sgarbi 2023


“Pane e Cioccolata”Maupal e Mauro Sgarbi 2023

“Pane e Cioccolata”
Maupal e Mauro Sgarbi 2023


This work is meant to be a celebration and remembrance of ‘known’ migrants from Europe of the 20th century, but who remain strangers far away.   At the same time, it wants to pay homage to a cinema great, the film “Pane e Cioccolata”, 1973 which showed the state our migrants lived in overseas.

On the left is the film’s final scene, in which Nino Garofoli undefeated returns. He refuses to give up the dream of a better life, dismissing the idea of a resigned return.  He leaves the tunnel where he had begun his journey,  this time from the train bringing him back to Italy, ready to start over again and fight for a better life.

On the right below is an iconic bitter phrase by Nino Garofoli himself about the condition of the migrant.

“Pane e Cioccolata”Maupal e Mauro Sgarbi 2023

“Pane e Cioccolata”
Maupal e Mauro Sgarbi 2023


Paisá by Thomas Bires

Paisá by Thomas Bires


This work Is a splendid, ideal and imaginary photograph of any day in one of the world’s many “Little Italy”.
In the centre of the image is a small family who have arrived with suitcases and children in tow.
As imagined by the Artist, these are about to enter the block to occupy the rooms that have shutters ajar.
All around there is a swarm of people and a shop where you can find typical Italian products.
The flags and signs flank the two realities in which the emigrants find themselves living: on the one hand, they embrace the new life and the nation that welcomes them, on the other hand, they cannot and do not want to forget their native one.

Car Free Abruzzo

You can catch a bus to Pescocanale to view the murals from Avezzano.

From the Life In Abruzzo Group – Pete Austin’s Archive!

Completion of the Colli di Monte Bove to Sante Marie tunnel, about 1888...

Completion of the Colli di Monte Bove to Sante Marie tunnel, about 1888…



Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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