The Festival of Happiness
Festival della Felicità
Province of Pesaro Urbino
You’re never too young or old to experience happiness. No age is too early or too late to take care of your soul’s wellbeing. To say that it’s not time to get to know ourselves yet, or indeed that it’s too late for self-knowledge are basically saying that it isn’t time to be happy yet, or that the time for happiness is over. The old and the young alike must seek happiness, the former to help themselves to feel young by reflecting on past happiness and the latter to stop ourselves from fearing the future. Let’s attempt to discover what makes us happy, because when we have happiness we have everything, and if we do not have it, we should do all we can to attain it.
No, this isn’t a transcript from the appearance of one of the illustrious guests at the Festival della Felicita, organised every year at the beginning of June in some of the most beautiful parts of the Pesaro and Urbino region: these are the words of the philosopher Epicurus, written in Greece between the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. The question of happiness has always been of interest in philosophical discourses but also in political ones. It is the focus of art and, of course, of everyday life. Mind, body and sprit together make an indissoluble unit and the attainment of total wellbeing is defined in relation to these different components (biological, psychological and philosophical) that influence each other.
The Festival della Felicita aims to understand and discuss every aspect of happiness. Happiness in particular as a combination of factors that, in the modern way of thinking that the Pesaro region promotes, have together been dubbed Benessere Equo e Sostenibile (BES) – Fair and Sustainable Wellbeing. Meetings, discussions and performances follow one after the other, focusing on a topic that is currently dominating the international political and cultural agenda: the possibility of replacing the concept of GDP with a happiness index, which would better represent a nation’s state of wellbeing. Through its Festival della Felicita, the Pesaro region has become an ambassador for Italy, representing a new way to view the state’s relationship to its people, based on positive intervention in their lives. Institutions, famous journalists, intellectuals and showbiz personalities take on the challenge to turn to ordinary members of the public and ask ‘How are you?’, ‘What makes you happy?’, ‘What can we do to help you?’.
The Festival della Felicita draws attention to the beauty of the country and the need to communicate with oneself, fundamental concepts at the heart of a society’s wellbeing. The discussions and perfomances are held every year in locations and monuments that already well-known for their history and charm: the Collegio Raffaello in Urbino, housed in an 18th century building, which numbered the young Giovanni Pascoli among its alumni; the Piazza del Popolo in Pesaro with its fantastic Palazzo Ducale and the old octagonal fountain made from pietra d’Istria and marble from Verona, and the Palazzo Gradari, a splendid 17th century residence which has been recently renovated. The small historic settlements and beautiful landscapes of the area become the attractive setting for peripheral festival events, such as excursions, walks and children’s activites. The local area is also introduced through its gastronomic tradition, by means of a collaboration with some of the region’s restaurants and producers, which offer tastings of their traditional local produce, such Urbino’s caciotta cheese, chickling peas from Serra Sant’Abbondio, crescia, a local unleavened bread, Bianchello del Metauro cherry wine and red Focara wine.
The Festival della Felicita is based on people, and highlights the importance of looking others in the eye and hearing them speak. In an intimate and transcendental sphere, the kind of sphere in which happiness grows and belongs, teachings are related which can later be developed into tangible projects, because happiness expresses itself concretely, as a result of satisfied needs and realised dreams. After all:
Gross [domestic] product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our family values; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. [Robert Kennedy, 18th March 1968]
Special Thanks to:
Province of Pesaro Urbino
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