Southern Italy rural heritage and Apennine Mountains
In the world of tourism, for almost a decade in Italy, there is a new definition “Albergo Diffuso” (Hotel Diffused), which implies that urban planning and architecture, for certain specific and historical sites, should not bend to their final destination but is the history and the respect for it which impose the final destination (at the Sextantio Albergo Diffuso in S. Stefano di Sessanio, the Reception is inside a cave used to grow the pig, or the Sextantio Albergo Diffuso Le Grotte della Civita in Matera a Rock Church is the common room for the guest).
In Italy, where always a culture of Landscape, in terms of a heritage to be protected, struggles to impose itself and it’s been systematically destroyed by new urban development usually in a strong contradiction with the historical “soul”. Our Company Sextantio decided to purchase nine of the few preserved historical villages, some of them build in the Middle Ages, located on top of the Apennine mountains, other more rural but in a seductive fusion with the surrounding area.
At this time we have realized the first two Albergo Diffuso as an example of what we want to save in our country and of what our company could, in the future, do: 1. Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a Middle Ages village. A suggestive expression of an historical patrimony but also a seductive “landscape” endangered in its architectural heritage and agricultural landscape integrity.
2. The Sassi di Matera, the most extreme expression of an “Historical Minor Heritage” on the verge of misery (when we entered there were illegally dump site, traces of mercenary love, remains of illegal drugs abuse and Pitbull shamefully relegated in sordid spaces…)
The mission in technical terms is to save all form of the territorial identity – the Landscape, the history and the architecture and local materials cultures from the craft tradition to the cousine of the areas.
The economical strategy:
1. the village restored, as well as an Albergo Diffuso, will have few houses which can be sold and other related services (Restaurant, serving wine cellar, tea room, shops with domestic crafts, and the only poetic license that transcends local traditions but is the most universal among the arts, an annual music calendar with our “Ensemble in Residence”).
2. The Albergo Diffuso can services to the real estate – always characterized by a family management – and the real estate may be offer to the Hotel’s guest during the periods of owner’s absence (through a formal agreements).
Italy has in its s Mountains about 2000 semi-abandoned historic town and 15 000 where the abandonment was nearly total. In a global market with a trend depriving places of their own identity and absorbing everything that is not clearly protected, should look for safeguard policies in those places of “marginality” – like in the Appennini Mountains in the South of Italy where abandonment, poverty, and emigration without return, allowed the preservation of past civilizations and the cultures survived until the very recent past.
Sextantio has acquired nine villages in the “Abruzzi” and a grant in the Sassi in Matera.
We received about 500 600 restoring village proposals.
We had the professional and motivated support by the Architect David Chipperfield.
We have the intention to export throughout Southern Italy this model, purchasing the 30 50 the most significant expressions of these “landscapes” on the verge of extinction.
All this planning could be an exceptional example of a new environmental policy, where the protection of these specific historical heritage would not be perceived as a cost but an added value.
In Italy, a country of Story, should be preserved a history too often disqualified as “minor”- such as dotted villages among the Abruzzi mountains and historical heritage so far from the canons of classicism.
This “minor patrimony” are considerate by the Anglo-Saxon and northern European as what remains of an increasingly endangered but very authentic Italy.
The protection of these patrimony would pursue a ethical and cultural values as the great economic return not only for the investor but also the whole territory – as our first experience in Santo Stefano di Sessanio taught us (write us if you want specifical numbers or for any other questions).
Daniele Kihlgren, President Group Sextantio-DOM