The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - July 17

The life-sized cows which will take part in Italy's first CowParade have begun to arrive in Florence and local artists will soon be at work on this zany artistic and charity event. The CowParade in the Tuscan capital will officially run from October 22 to January 20 but residents and visitors will be able to view the unusual creations as soon as participating artists have put on their final touches.

The first CowParade was held in Zurich in 1998 and was the brainchild of sculptor Pascal Knapp and his father Walter, who had asked his son to design a standing cow to serve as a unique, three dimensional canvas for artists participating in a Zurich art exhibition. The idea and event proved a great success and since then the initiative has become what organizers boost as "the world's largest public art event".

Despite the level of the artists who now take part, CowParade is by no means intended to be high art, but first and foremost a public art exhibit accessible to all. A total of 80 cows, which arrive stark white, will be set up here along the traditional itinerary followed by tourists. The first cow has already appeared in the central Piazza della Repubblica, in front of the famous Giubbe Rosse Cafe', where Italian artist Alessio Michahellas has begun to create 'MuccaBruca" (CowCaterpillar) with a bright red coat of paint.

Each cow has an official sponsor, to cover costs, and at the end of the event the cows are auctioned off for charity. Those which go unsold are either donated to a charitable organisation or sold privately at a later date, with the proceeds still going to charity. Among the proud owners of a CowParade creation are Elton John, George Bush Sr., Queen Rania of Jordan, Nelson Mandela, Ringo Starr and former Czech president Vaclav Havel.