UBI 2009 - Italy with a Bonsai Flavorby Enrique Castano Bougainvillea
Photograph by Enrique Castano
As it is well known in the west, one of the countries that stand up high and tries to improve it self in the art of bonsai is without a doubt Italy. This year I was lucky to be invited as a Judge for UBI. I was quite happy with this, but more to have the opportunity to see some great bonsai and spend time with friends. My travel started going from Prague to Belgium and then arriving to Venice, not a really straight line, but the airlines think is the best way to do it. So the 1 hr flight turn into 4 hr. From there I took a train to Feltre to visit Mauro Stemberger. I really wanted to see his great collection of trees. The weather was great and as I arrived I realized I did not had Mauro's address with me, but well I had his phone number. Of course I tried my cell and it did not work in Italy. When I arrive to Feltre I look around and found some telephones and of course they did not work. Then I decided to practice my Italian, mostly hand waving, it worked well I got directions to a local Internet café. I got there wrote an email to Mauro, and just when I was about to check my other emails, Mauro arrived. Wow that was quick. Well looking at his sport car was no wonder, of course later on looking at his driving was less of a wonder, I think he could drive in Mexico city.
We arrived at his place, and surely he had several great trees on display. Of course the first thing I was amazed was that no one had steal them already. In Mexico I would give them about 3 hours before they would be all gone. Anyway. Mauro was adding some final touches to this amazing Scots pine, the biggest I have seen for bonsai (trunk wise). The rest of the collection was just as great. Looking at some of the previous Kimura tree and some well known trees from his collection I was quite delighted specially to look up close to some of the details, from carving to branching. I took some pictures and we waited for Carlos (Van der Vaart) to arrive, When hi did we took out some trees that he had in his van and then headed for the pizza place! of course!!!
After dinner it was late we went to bed and breakfast place and waited for the morning to come. 6am! where is the hot water, finally after looking for an hour at night in the morning it was discovered that the system was not plug in! O well At 7 am Mauro came to pick up us as we had a long trip, we had some pastry and coffee, good coffee!!, we put the trees in the van. Well first to take Mauro's pine, which obviously does not fit trough the doors. Moving that pine remind me to start working on my Mame collection in years to come! At least it will be easier to lift and move around. We put as many trees as they could fit in the van and headed for Salerno, just about 900 kilometers away!!! so it was quite nice to travel to must of Italy. We could see the edge of some great cities, but no time for tourism trees had to arrive! so we had almost no stops, which was fine with us. We had some snacks from the gas station stores and we arrived around 4 PM, starving. But of course first we had to take the trees in. Then obviously I wanted to see what trees were there already. After a while we just had to had some food! I meet John Pit and I convince him to show me some of the pots he had for sale, before he would open, I got 3 really good ones.
By night I was dead and the rain just made it easy to go early to sleep. Then it was the day of the inauguration, more trees were arriving each hour, I help a bit, mostly carrying bonsai from one place to the next, I guess I needed some exercise. Once all the trees were in, Giorgio Castagneri, Francesco Giammona and my self begun to judge, I must say the three best trees were really easy to select they stand out from the competition, which was good since Spanish and Italian are close enough language to communicate simple things but more complex ideas usually required a lot of arm moving and hands flight all around. For some of the bonsai I was disappointed as more work could have been done in time, but there is always more work in bonsai. Just one of the tree we disagree but for the must part we got alone quite well. The next day we had the new talent competition. That was good to see as well. Some did stand out and their work was quite good for a new talent competition. I particularly like the work of Mauro Fregara, who had a difficult tree but did a good job. Also Marco Tarozzo did a great job and finish a really nice tree at the end. I enjoyed their work as well as of some of the others. As I was looking at their work and going around the exhibition I notice that must of the people working, exhibiting, doing demos etc are quite young, and that there is a lot of interest by the new generations. Not only to look but to invest in this art. I think that's great, and that will keep Italy improving and moving forward. In many countries the vast majority of the people are over 50, here I would say it was the other way around. One wonders why would that be, as it would be nice to see this phenomena world wide. Probably, the way bonsai is treated like art and art is revered from past generations in this country. just probably!
Well going back, At night we finally when out, but the cold front was just to much for the Italians and must places were closing. So I went to rest. The next day there were demos by Salvadore's group, Adolfo Michele, Enrico Savini etc. Great demos, one can always learn some new tricks and they were excellent. Also I like the fact that the demos when for two days, so there was sufficient time to do some real work. Salvadores group had a nice Juniper with lots of dead wood to work on. Adolfo had a nice Scot's pine that needed to add some effects on the dead wood and to compact the branches. Enrico had a very nice Cupressus which outside Italy is rare to see them used as bonsai, but they did had some great trees from this species.
And of course there was the Gala dinner was great and had some great food, However Carlos could not eat the fish, ending out with a piece of bread for dinner o well good for diet! Anyway must people did had a great time and of course the award section, and award section and award section. Well it goes for a while. As president of UBI Mauro was great he stay way from some of the conservative nature that is sometimes to bureaucratic and I like his approach at expressing his opinion. Of course being somewhere around 6 food 4 and playing rugby does help him not to have to many adversaries.
The next day was the end of the demos and I was off Prague via Naples, next time I should stay a bit longer to admire the wonderful culture and history of the place. Final touches by Mauro Stemberger
Photograph by Enrique CastanoMauros Place
Photograph by Enrique CastanoThe new talent competition at the beginning
Photograph by Enrique CastanoNew talent emerging
Photograph by Enrique CastanoBy Marco Tarozzo
Photograph by Enrique CastanoMauro Fregara doing a great job
Photograph by Enrique CastanoAward ceremony, Enrique Castano, Giorgio Castagneri, Francesco Giammona and Salvatore Liporace
Photograph by Enrique CastanoDemo by Salvatore Liporace
Photograph by Enrique CastanoDemo by Michele Andolfo
Photograph by Enrique CastanoDemo by Enrico Savini
Photograph by Enrique CastanoDemo by Enrico Savini
Photograph by Enrique CastanoEnrique Castano and Jonh Pit and his great pots
Photograph by Enrique CastanoBread for Carlos, ummm to bad he could not enjoy the great seea food.
Photograph by Enrique CastanoLiterati Quercus
Photograph by Enrique CastanoMirtus comunis
Photograph by Enrique CastanoWild olive by Salvadore Liporace
Photograph by Enrique CastanoA great Juniperus chinense, one of the winners!
Photograph by Enrique CastanoA good all Italian tree, the defender of the Holy Grail!
Photograph by Enrique CastanoA very old pinus silvestre
Photograph by Enrique Castano