“We are so obsessed with discovering new things that we often deny ourselves the interesting experience of experiencing things that are well known, but in a different context”. Chris Bangle
The Big Bench Community Project, widely known for its cheerful colorful giant benches, is a non-profit initiative promoted by the American designer Chris Bangle and his wife Catherin, born from the desire to combine the designer’s creativity with the great Piedmontese craftsmanship skills.
The project is aimed at supporting local communities, slow tourism and craft activities typical of the places in the countries where these off-scale installations are located.
The first Big Bench was built in 2010 by Chris Bangle, in Clavesana, a small town in the Piedmontese Langhe.
The bizarre idea of sitting comfortably on an oversized bench and admiring the beauty of a landscape drawn by mountains and vineyards was so popular that a community was born.
From a dream, perhaps born as a joke, a passion has spread that has united many travelers who love the area and the Giant Benches have crossed the borders of Piedmont to spread to many areas of Italy.
The designer’s vision was to use a bench, a typical element of street furniture, but to distort its dimensions, almost like in a fairy tale.
The change of perspective given by the size of the bench makes those who sit on it feel like a child.
An intense, playful experience to share with friends or children or why not even alone. An invitation to relax, to the pleasure of rediscovering nature expertly cared for by man and savoring the slowness of time.
And like in a beautiful fairy tale, place it in a panoramic point of exceptional beauty, where you can get lost at the sight of the places and with the calm and tranquility that they can convey, let yourself be carried away by beauty and become children again.
All the benches have unconventional dimensions and are located in very suggestive panoramic points, to allow the traveler the view of villages, lakes and countryside from a privileged observation point.
They are located in places with a strong landscape character and deliberately far from the most famous routes. The search for giant benches thus becomes a pretext to organize trips out of town, to discover lesser-known places, search for information on the web and become a way to organize tours between the regions of Italy, visit small villages, grasping their traditions and curiosity.
The benches are to be found on the maps and the goal of the community members, “the Panchinisti” is to get a stamp on the Big Benches passport.
The choice of colors of the giant benches varies according to the places and the imagination of those who make them and very often is inspired by the excellence of a place, such as the red shades of wine or the purple of lavender.
The Big Benches of Lake Garda
The Big yellow bench of San Felice (BS)
From June 2020, Lake Garda also has its first Big Bench, the n. 101.
It is located in the small town of Cisano di San Felice del Benaco, on the Brescia side of Lake Garda, inside the park of Palazzo Cominelli.
Elegant eighteenth-century building, recently restored and today the seat of the Raffaele Cominelli Foundation which aims to preserve the culture of Valtenesi and the collection of paintings by Leonardi Cominelli, painter and poet who lived between 1642 and 1703. The Foundation has also established AlterBar is an innovative social inclusion project born in 2000, which involves people with disabilities and difficulties and a consolidated group of volunteers.
The typical lake landscape adorned with woods and olive groves accompanies the search for the bench. Along a path small yellow flakes indicate the way to go.
Once you have reached your destination, from the giant bench you will be entranced by the spectacular panoramic view of the Gulf of Salò.
The Chiaretto Bench in Muscoline (BS)
The Muscoline Bench, known as the Chiaretto Bench, n. 118 was made in the pink shade in honor of the famous wine typical of the area and which is said to take its pink color from the wonderful sunsets of Valtènesi.
“Whatever you can do, whatever dream you can dream, begin. Boldness brings with it genius, magic and strength. Get started now! (Goethe).
It is with this quote that the “La Guarda” farm announced the realization of the long-cherished dream of building a giant bench in their vineyards.
A tribute to slow and conscious tourism that offers the opportunity to discover one of the wine production areas of Lake Garda.
It is installed on the hill called “La Guarda, from which the farm takes its name, in the hills of Muscoline on the edge of the morainic hills of Lake Garda. A place surrounded by nature made of woods, cypresses, olive trees and vineyards. which invites relaxation and slowness.
From here you can admire an enchanting panorama, a glimpse of the Valtènesi.
The gaze is lost at the sight of the lake surrounded by the majesty of the mountains, Monte Baldo, the mountains of the Maniva-Bagolino group even more fascinating when the snow tinges them with white. On clear days it is nice to wait for the sunset, which with its colors gives unforgettable emotions.
All that remains is to re-leave and be thrilled by the simplicity and curiosity that our beautiful country offers us, sitting on a giant bench!