September 06, 2010

Guerino Galzerano, Decorated structures

first two pictures courtesy of prof Amedeo la Greca, 
president of the "Centro di Promozione Culturale per il Cilento"

The picture above shows Guerino Galzerano in front of one of his buildings, a castle-like structure. Decorating constructions with pebbles was his specialty. He would use thousands and thousands of these little stones which abundantly could be found in the local rivers.

Life and works

Guerino Galzerano (1922-2002) was born in a small village near the Italian community of Castelnuovo Cilento, south of the cities of Napoli (Naples) and Salerno. His father died when Guerino still was a young boy and he would attend school only for a limited number of years.

During World War II, conscripted in the Italian army, he witnessed the horrors of the battle field, which may have traumatized him. After the war, when a friend of him was assassinated, he became a suspect because -as the story goes- he didn't weep at the funeral. He was sentenced and put in (psychiatric) custody for a number of years.

this picture shows the front of Galzerano's house

In 1956 Galzerano married Teresa and settled in Castelnuovo Cilento. To earn his living he went to Germany as a guest worker.

It so happened that in 1970 some dramatic events took place: rumors (true or not) about a love affair of Teresa made Guerino return to Italy and threaten the involved man and his mother. Once more he was convicted and put in jail.

When in 1977 he was a free man again, he settled in the house in Castelnuovo Cilento (Teresa had meanwhile left for Germany). Living there a simple life, alone, with few means, he began decorating the house in his characteristic way, using these little stones from the river.  
this picture and the next two 
courtesy of Cristina Calicelli

This way of decorating may have to do with Galzerano's preference for old, classic forms of buildings, he may have seen while travelling around in rural Italy, as he probably has been doing.

He not only decorated the exterior of the house, the interior has been transformed by constructing alcoves, which, like the walls, have been abundantly decorated with pebbles.


In the garden various decorated structures came into being.

To all appearances  the local authorities had no problems with Galzerano's decorative and architectural activities.


One activity however caused some commotion among the inhabitants: in 1982 he made his own tombstone with somewhat quirky texts.

this picture courtesy of prof. Amedeo la Greca

Decorations at the foot of the old castle  Castelnuovo Cilento.

After decorating the house, he made a creation in the garden at the foot of the medieval castle in Castelnuovo Cilento. In the same style as the house, again working with pebbles, he decorated the space with a series of sculptures in the shape of a kind of totems.

This creation is currently in decay.

A large castle

He then built a large castle on a site in the small village of Santa Caterine, outside Castelnuovo Cilento, again using pebbles as material. 

The castle has a large entrance arch, all kinds of niches and is equipped with stone tables and chairs.

The texts on the tombstone

Guerino Galzerano died in 2002.

The texts on above depicted tombstone read:

My name is
Galzerano Guerino
born in Chiusa dei Cerri 
community of Castelnuovo Cilento  
on 2 5 1922 and deceased ... ..
the son of Giuseppe and of Maria Nilate.
here are my mortal remains.
here human law ends and begins Gods law.


In front of this grave of 
Galzerano Guerino 
please be well-mannered
friends and relatives
do not place flowers or candles
thank you all in every way


where I was
you are
where I am
you will be

Galzerano's house became a vacation home

After his death, a great-nephew inherited the house in Castelnuovo Cilento, who transformed it into a holiday home. This while retaining the striking decorations.

* Article (2012) on SPACES website
* Wikipedia
* Christina Calicelli, "Castelli Immaginari: Guerino Galzerano, Umberto Bonini, Enrico Capra", in: Costruttori di Babele, Gabriele Mina, (red), Milano (Elèuthera), 2011. I gratefully acknowledge that most of the factual information in above (revised) post, comes from this article.
* A comparable article by Cristina Calicelli in Bric-à-Brac, 2012, 2.
* I also saw a referral to Luci Isabella, Guerino Galzerano, La vita e l'opera dell'artista, illustrata da una raccolta fotografica


* Video (15,42, YouTube, January 2020) by This video has scenes of the old castle and the creations at its foot made by Galzerano

first published September 2010, last revised April 2024

Guerino Galzerano
Decorated structures
Castelnuovo Cilento, Salerno, Campania, Italy
the house where Galzerano lived, is on the Via Roma 

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