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"When a new era begins
a procession of youths will lead a great symphony
that will reverberate from one end of the universe to the other.
Friends, sing, dance and rejoice together!"Daisaku Ikeda

"LA GRANDE FESTA"Certaldo 12-16 luglio 2017

There’s still time, space and matter!

The desire, willingness and love of imagination and throwing a big party are still there too.

Mercantia is celebrating its 30th anniversary, thanks to all of you. Special thanks go to the weather, which has always been so kind to us.

Times are especially tough at the moment on many fronts, but that's why it's even more important to carry on having a party, mounting a festival and creating culture to fight off the darkness of everyday life, to fight against anything that tries to crush our humanity, to affirm the right to be happy. No, Mercantia doesn't run throughout the year, but like it has for thousands of years, mankind nurtures the joy of the party and the expectations that go with it. Mercantia is arts and crafts, socialising, culture, exhibitions and especially shows, a great variety of which flood the squares, streets, gardens, balconies, windows and towers, all bringing out emotions and so many possibilities. Thirty years is a long time and I have aged a lot, but the festival is yet young. Year after year, its success and vitality have been reaffirmed, with street theatre growing and multiplying throughout Italy. We are proud of this; our gamble has been vindicated.

La grande festa (the big party) that I have in mind and that has gradually come to be is a festival that draws attention to all the possibilities and events that tend to immerse us in a unique, global spectacle, a vortex of energy. Only our festival has been able to create this in recent years. Our stage is the medieval town of Certaldo, with its red bricks and buildings, the very place for a party like ours. Like the stage of a theatre, Certaldo has offered us all its opportunities, creating osmosis, a delicate balance of all the ingredients of the festival.

The stuff our dreams are made on is the materials of the artisan, the substance of our shows, the lines drawn in every direction, our people, the lights, the platforms, the attention and the experience we put into every aspect. All this has enabled the festival to create a new history for street theatre in Italy.

While we make our garden grow, the willingness and desire to create Mercantia goes on, as does the memory of so many unforgettable moments and so many smiles on the faces of over a million visitors. This is the key to the desire and the will that keeps us going along our long journey. Willingness and desire are essential factors in any concept or project. As the Buddhist principle goes, “earthly desires are enlightenment”. This is the driving force that pushes us forward and forges our will and determination, although without love, it would be tuneless and devoid of taste. The love that I and so many others have given to this event is intangible and unquantifiable, but it can be felt in the air and breathed in, like the salt that enlivens every dish. Love renews desire and forces the will to achieve the goal of a big party.

In recent years, the focus of one side of the festival has been on poetry. There is always a bit of everything at Mercantia though, all equal yet all different! Turning to theatre and the schedule, I suddenly get writer's block and can’t tell which bands, street parades, international groups and extraordinary craftspeople will bring their work to us live… If I said more, it would almost be a betrayal of the unique nature of the event, trivialising and oversimplifying it. For those who know it, the Gaia hypothesis is a great theory to describe this living superorganism, made up of so much individuality…

Therefore, when we say ‘party’, we mean La grande festa! But it's not just any old party.

This year, we’re really going to pull all the stops out. The quality of the shows in our spaces, gardens and squares will be just the same, but in every direction along Via Boccaccio, there will be even more events to attend, chances to dance, have fun, pamper yourself, fall in love, eat and drink, snap photos, meet up and be amazed!

They say, to live life to the full, we should live each day as if it were our last. Maybe that's why I say every year that this is the last one, the last Mercantia, so we focus on the present moment, so we do our very best to make it a unique, one-off event.

You're all invited. These thirty years will never come again, so let’s live them out in this spirit. La grande festa awaits you. Come and join us, and play the fool in the spaces of yesteryear. Mercantia runs from 12 to 16 July in Certaldo, just 22 miles from Florence.

With love

 artistic concept by Alessandro Gigli