The Cretto di Burri is a huge land artwork conceived by the late artist, Alberto Burri, which took 30 years to finish. It was built as a form of memorial on the ruins of the town of Gibellina, in the south-west of Sicily, which was destroyed by the Belice earthquake in 1968. The earthquake killed around 400-500 people in the area and made 100,000 homeless. It has the form of huge 1.6 metre high layer of concrete over the hillside town's ruins, into which are cut pathways where visitors can walk, which follow the line of the old streets and alleyways. While the structure is impressive, and certainly worth a visit, one has to ask does it really make any emotional connection with the disaster -- or connote anything of the suffering and destruction? In my view, its form is too blank and monolithic to achieve that. Our visit was not helped by the absence of any information about the work or the disaster on the site -- and the visitor centre was closed. Visitors with no prior knowledge would be left in the dark. Incidentally the site is always open and there is no charge to enter.
Six kilometres down the road past the Cretto you will find the still standing ruins of another town, Poggioreale, also destroyed by the earthquake (and like Gibellina, re-built several kilometres away). These decaying ruins, which are too dangerous to enter, but which can be viewed from surrounding roads, are much more evocative of the disastrous effects of the earthquake on thousands of lives, than the Cretto... and should certainly be visited at the same time as the artwork.
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