Tag Archives: heritage

Alberghi diffusi, the truest luxury is dictated by finely crafted authenticity

The recent Travel & Leisure article entitled Reviving the Italian Village takes a note of vanity efforts afforded by the enormously wealthy. That might seem a judgmental statement, it isn’t. I am grateful for anyone, for whatever reason, choosing to take on the arduous process of heritage preservation.

When Dr. Giancarlo Dall’Ara originated the concept of alberghi diffusi thirty years ago, long before futurists started speaking of circular economies, I believe he aspired to create a noble legacy which would positively impact rural Italian economies by driving tourism, ensuring the preservation of cultural heritage and providing a path to the continuation of a more connected way of living. As urban life has become more complicated and messy, much like the value proposition offered by Product of Designated Origin (PDO) assignation, the alberghi diffusi now has the potential to fulfill a demand for an authenticity remarkably devoid from most contemporary life. I don’t see alberghi diffusi as a Utopian fantasy but a model of socio-cultural, economic and environmental sustainability, scalable and practical in perfect harmony, and logical extension of what I set out to create with Thistle & Broom back in 2003.

The haemorrhaging of rural communities, and the diaspora of countries alike, is not new. Natural disasters and economic hardships have driven great migrations of people to cities nearer, and very far away from agrarian lifestyles for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

The currently running ‘Anno dei borghi’, organised by Italy’s MIBACT (Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism) is designed to entice visitors to explore 18 regions and help manage the impact of the tourism sector growth on Italy’s urban areas – as well as spread the economic impact around.

Creating an alberghi diffusi from a near ruined village without services takes time. Italy’s unemployment hovers around 11%, and is more than three times higher among those under the age of 25. Housing, following the 2016 earthquake, remains at a premium. At the end of a rather long and dark tunnel two emerging trends of isolation as luxury and experiential travel provide a much welcome light. Mind you this isolation is not a minimalistic, silence-only spiritual retreat but one replete with simple but exquisite accommodations, agro-tourism / slow food / gourmet dining, extraordinary privacy and ultra-high speed internet connections – all of which create jobs, and provide economic stability.

It is here that a sweet spot of sustainable development exists, a convergence of yet-to-be alberghi diffusi with a tremendous opportunity to prove systems destined for adoption in Smart Cities. I am not referencing autonomous cars but rather reinvigorating, and making contemporary circular economies which have always existed in communities bound by the ‘butcher, baker and candlestick maker’. The alberghi diffusi model is a solution to any number of pressing contemporary issues worthy of both investment monies and public policies support.

Clean-tech incubated in alberghi diffusi would pull villages off the easily hacked central grid while providing self-sufficiency. What’s more, this model allows those individuals not lured to the bright city lights to continue practicing (or develop) arts, crafts and traditional hand-skills of a region with the market (quite literally) coming to the mountain. Imagine bathing with organic botanical goats’ milk soap and sleeping on crisp linen sheets hand-woven from blue flowered flax grown in the meadows surrounding these villages which a year before was wafting in the breeze and growing tall in the sunlight. That the village is masterfully IoT connected and a set (or two) of those linens can be ordered and paid for with a voice command based upon block-chain technology generates real efficiencies and quality of life for all parties.

The truest luxury is dictated not by fashion, but finely crafted authenticity and the improved efficiencies offered by technology.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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The difference (participating in) elections make

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Justin Trudeau from Rideau Hall photo: CBC.CA

All over the world ordinary people like myself are applauding the less than a week old leadership offered to Canada (and the world by example) of Justin Trudeau. His quote “Because its 2015” resounding with us regardless of our gender, race, religion, ethnic heritage or where we live. His vision boldly being implemented to undo his predecessors’ nearly decade long debauching of everything that Canadians (as my childhood neighbours of less than 1 mile) hold dear about themselves and their society.

To Canada’s south, especially in the states of Ohio and Kentucky, the United States is dealing with cries of election fraud brought about by Diebold’s electronic voting machines where software vulnerability makes hacking (or coding as some believe) easy to make the results anything the ruling party might wish them to be. And sometimes it requires the court systems to make ‘basic human rights’ that our ancient (and near history) forebears took for granted in healing and for ceremony legitimate in the face of corporate interests and the narrowmindedness of a well organized minority, or the drug cartels themselves. (For the record I support the use of marijuana for medical use and spiritual exploration but am not a user myself.)

4200 miles away from Ottawa and Columbus today is Election Day in Croatia. And like so many places around the world a great deal is at stake in the form of who is chosen by us, the masses, to represent our interests. What we as individuals, in our egocentric view, tend to forget is that we are all connected by the choices made when we cast our ballots (or fail to show up at all because ofizbori2015 indifference or resignation that nothing will be changed). Election results matter a great deal in our dynamic and interdependent and connected world. We are one. We will all be impacted by the same planet security horrors – some immediate and directly facing drought and then famine, natural and man-made disasters resulting from climate change, rising sea levels, armed conflict and outright genocide resulting from greed and insecurity, and others who fear the tidal wave of ‘others’ brought to our borders by the aforementioned and much more.

In the case of every country bordering the Adriatic and all of its citizens, tourism 11-08-15 at 11.29 AMbusinesses ranging from tourism to tuna, all will be negatively impacted if the current Croatian administration (and any combination of its collation government) are reelected. Under the misguided (or personal gain?) driven mindset of the current Minister of Economy Ivan Vrdoljak and his co-conspirators in the archaic hydrocarbon industry of Eni SpA, Medoil Plc, INA Industrija Nafte d.d., Oando Inc and Vermilion Energy propose to drill for natural gas and oil in the pristine waters of the Jadrana (the Adriatic). Almost certainly with a fault line running under and through this shallow closed sea a disaster will happen, perhaps on the epic level of the Deepwater Horizon (BP Oil) spill in the very least further decimating the natural habitat for marine life and negatively impacting the thriving tourism sector of the Croatian (and other Adriatic countries) economy.

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Personal photo of the northern Adriatic taken 10 September 2015

A year ago when I first came to Croatia I was struck by the absolute beauty of the country and especially of the Adriatic. I recognise that the floundering economy needs help but drilling for oil in this water is lunacy and wholly unnecessary when robust clean technologies based in renewables are widely available to channel Croatia’s abundant sun, wind, wave and harness biomass. Further, my business partner in Commarglo and I have a plan ready to deploy that could raise tourism in Croatia by the same 800% which he realised as a grad student for the country of Aruba. On behalf of a cross section of concerned citizens from around the world and within Croatia’s borders we implored of His Holiness Pope Francis to intervene, which sadly has not yet happened.

And so I bring you dear reader to a choice. For Croatians to get the polls today, to cast your votes first for Zivi Zid (their platform does not sanction drilling on land or in the sea) and then ORaH (which supports limited drilling for natural gas – which I personally hope they will change their position on). For the rest of us, in advance of COP21 to tweet #EarthToParis consistently and loudly to make the representatives of 190 countries attending on all of our behalf to actually cease the border bickering and ‘you go first’ arguments and rationally, methodically and immediately develop a tactical plan for implementing against the red alert level of warning we are living in related to climate change. For those that suggest it will cost too much – really? look at what climate change is already costing humanity for our negligence.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

Telling stories, witnessing history.

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Un-retouched fresco from St. Anton

From the beginning of human history we have told stories with pictures. Our oral history made physical to share with more people, and future generations. With clays, charcoal, plant extracts on cave walls, on animal skins, on wood, and fiber woven from all manner of plants our stories vibrant in their youth and then fading with time, or in some instances covered with the works of later generations as newer stories take on greater importance in their telling. Do we even consider the overwriting of our collective stories?  I have been in the “smallest town in the world” of Hum and its slightly larger neighbor Roč in Istra, Croatia the last couple of days and nowhere have our stories and history collided so immediately before my eyes as here.

Before general populations possessed literacy the Church (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church) hired talented artists to adorn the walls of their Romanesque (and earlier) houses of God with the most 20150825_111821important lessons a particular bishopric wish to convey to its flock. Ascension. Damnation. The merits of living a pious life. Bearing witness to the horrific deaths of its martyrs. The lives of Saints. With this key (and others just like it) Jelena of the Roč Tourist Board (if so motivated to visit go through Mila in the Buzet TB to arrange) opened up its churches for me.

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Un-retouched image from Saint Roč

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Prepared in Roč, Glagoljica script was used for the Missal printed in 1483.

I am not a art historian. I am not a devout Catholic. What I am is curious and passionate about our collective cultural heritage and its preservation. In particular as we watch ISIS destroy the heritage of the cradle of civilisation it seems a race against time for us to stand physically before our cultural lineage. So sharing something so incredibly special is an honour for me and in sharing it I hope you do visit Istra, Croatia and experience the stunning beauty of these 800 year old frescoes in person. Three layers of frescoes (until recently it was thought there were only two – surprise!) adorn the nave of the Saint Roch nothing prepares you for the door of it to be opened, and literally step back to 13th century. Also requiring a keyholder in Roč is the Church of Saint Anton, and main church (for services) is the massive Saint Bartholomew (Crkva svetog Bartula).  For me, it would have been enough to come to Roč to see these but a trip to Hum is well worth staying two nights in the area to explore both towns. Why? Concurrent with the development of these beautiful frescoes was the formal creation of the Glagolitic script (not an alphabet, but an azbuka – the names of the first two letters of the script ) commonly referred to as ‘Old Church Slavonic’ which is the oldest of any Slavic script used for the translation of the Bible and Roč became the centre of this effort. To understand more of the origins of Glagolitic script, and the original practices of faith of what is now Croatia please take time to read this marvelous blog post by Gordana Kokić.

Each year at the end of June 60 exceptional 6th grade Croatian students are brought to Roč to study Glagolitic in a course called “The Small Glagolitic Academy”. My heart soared to learn that something well over 1000 years old is being honoured and still being taught.

On the main road between Roč and Hum is “Glagolitic Alley”. Eleven different sculptures (ten of stone, one of copper) are set into the midst of the Istrian landscape. Reverence for 20150825_115958Istra’s cultural heritage that inspires those of us drawn here to Terra Magica for reasons we can’t fully comprehend.

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Made in Croatia, characters of the Glagoljica script in Hum.

Our stories start with something we experience, something common or extraordinary that we feel compelled to capture by putting a single letter onto a blank page. Humankind hasn’t changed so very much since using charcoal on a cave wall. Our letters, one at a time form the basis of painting the picture of our experiences with words.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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