In my mind it was not possible that a small town could be hidden in the National Park of Lazio, Abruzzo and Molise, in the enchanted Val di Comino, that was famous all over the world.
Casalvieri (Guide of Casalvieri) is not only the town of the National Monuments, homeland of the famous comedian Coluche, it is also the town of the rubber balloons that have been produced here since the early twentieth century.
When we enter the world of the rubber balloon factory: there are spots of colour in every corner that give us the feeling of having been projected into an impressionist painting.
I find myself discovering for the first time how the balloon is made, that object of desire of all children, the symbol of the parties that when released to fly, reaches up to the sky and carries with it the question of all those who observe its flight: where will it end?
But how is a balloon made?
The first balloons were produced with dried animal entrails, and only in the thirties of the twentieth century was the rubber balloon born. The main material is latex, a completely natural substance that is extracted from the sap of the rubber trees found originally in the Amazon and in plantations in South East Asia and Western Africa.
The latex is sent here to Casalvieri mainly from Malaysia and in its factories the latex comes to life: poured into large tanks, coloured with natural shades that give the nuances that the balloon will have at the end of its production.
Series of molds of different shapes are immersed in the coloured latex creating a thin film that dries quickly.
The raw balloons are passed through rotating brushes; the edge that is necessary to inflate the balloon is formed, which is then ready for the most important transformation: it is subjected to high temperatures twice: this vulcanization of the rubber causes it to lose its plastic characteristics and to become elastic.
Washed with water jets the now finished balloon is submitted to the most important tests to ensure that it is as desired, with its special shape, its colour and that it is free from imperfections – there must only be one hole for it to be a whole balloon.
They are now ready to be counted and packaged by immense machines ready to start their journey that will take them from Casalvieri all over the world.
Here at Casalvieri is the first Italian balloon making company, among the first in the world, that started its production in the early 1900s.
Today a real “Italian Academy of Balloons” deals with the “Balloon Art”, wonderful sculptures made with the use of balloons of a thousand colours, of so many different shapes and customized for all events, spreading art and Italian products born in this small and enchanted town of Val Comino!
So let us be carried away by the ‘power’ of the balloons that do not know borders except that of the sky!