The past year has seen many people across the world grapple with a very specific type of loss; the sadness of a trip not taken, and the yearning for experiences beyond the anomie of the supermarket. As that strong desire for, and impulse to, wander the world fell victim to the pandemic in a turbulent 2020, we seemed at one point to be surging toward an anticipatory dystopia. Who were we without travel? What do we have to look forward to when there is no international vacation booked for the summer?

Over the course of the past 12 months, we’ve been commissioning artists, painters and illustrators from different cities all over the world to paint a picture of what they see out their windows – either real or imaginary. Most artists have been confined to these cities during the global lockdowns, and all have a close connection to the place they have illustrated.

Each artist has a “GRAZIA At Home City Guide” perched on their window sill, insider guides to the cities you need to visit when the world re-opens. Each artist recalls moments past in these nooks of the world; how they drank in the palaces, how they wandered through the parks, and how they ate and ate and ate. There’s recommendations too – local dishes, phrases and lessons – so you can start imagining your own itinerary from the comfort of your own home. Today, we’re headed to Sassoferrato in Italy.

You may not have heard of Sassoferrato, a small town in central Eastern Italy but with a population of just over 7,000 people it is a perfect, nearly untouched gem. According to local illustrator Giulia Piras, the village and its surroundings are brimming with art and history.   

“One of the memories I am most fond of is the exhibition dedicated to Giovanni Battista Salvi. Titled “The Devout Beauty”, it was held in the village four years ago,” Piras says. “On that occasion I was able to admire many paintings and drawings by the illustrious painter.”  

“As for legends and folk tales, an anecdote I like is related to the mysterious prison cell located in the rooms adjacent to the church of San Pietro. Here, there is an inscription presumably attributable to a priest who lived in 1700. You will discover the enigmatic content if you come to visit Sassoferrato,” Piras continues. “It is also said that the skeleton of a nun was found at the ancient monastery which now houses the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions. Yes, rumour has it that a dagger was stuck in her chest.” 

For further fascinating insight into the history, Piras’ favourite book from the town is “Treatise On Tyranny” by Bartolo da Sassoferrato. The author was a 14th century Italian law professor and was believed to be one of the most prominent jurists of Medieval Roman Law. 

When it comes to experiencing the full offering of Sassoferrato, the artist suggests a morning walk on Monte Strega – pack cheese pizza with soppressato salami to enjoy at the top – before an afternoon walk along the alleys of the Castle and a stop at the Archaeological Park of Sentinum in the village. This is where the famous Battle of the Nations took place during the third Samnite war in 295 BC. The evening should be spent at dinner in one of the typical restaurants of the area followed by a quiet walk around the town to admire the clear sky, Piras says. 

Follow Giulia Piras @piras_g.illustration 

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