Tag Archives: preservation

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! 

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

Missal

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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The only oil that goes with a Croatian bikini is olive!

German translation of the following here, and the Croatian translation found here, and now in Japanese here.

*** VICTORY! 22 January 2016 The new Croatian government announced a cessation of any further plans to drill for hydrocarbons in the Adriatic.

On the morning of 29 July it was announced that Marathon Oil had returned 7 of the 10 concessions for drilling for hydrocarbons in the Adriatic had been returned to the Croatian government.

In the interest of full disclosure, since writing this post in December 2014, and it subsequently going viral (nearly 125K reads in the original English version alone), I have been invited to join, and now serve the Clean Adriatic Sea Alliance as their Chief Strategy Officer.

Every link in the following post is VERY PURPOSEFULLY chosen toward education and action, I AM ASKING YOU MOST SINCERELY TO ACT on all three efforts embedded within this post (read on, don’t get caught up with the girl she’ll still be here when you finish)!

17 March 2015 UPDATE: http://www.croatia-split.com/blog/what-s-happening/adriatic-drilling-casa-replies-to-oil-agency-boss-barbara-doric.html

17 February 2015 UPDATE – the Croatian government is being sued for its illegal activities around drilling in the Adriatic. (I don’t agree with all that the HCSP stands for but…)

“This decision reacted by the Croatian Pure Party of Rights (HCSP).
Press Release signed by the President of HCSP, Josip Miljak in its entirety:
“A criminal decision of the Croatian government to announce an international tender for a fictitious oil and gas exploration in the Croatian economic zone is a crime which, if not prevented, Croatia could cost you dearly. If you sign contracts with foreign companies, a group of experts has already prepared two lawsuits, one Court for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, ie. The UN Security Council and other State Attorney’s Office.”

If you care about the seas and oceans and clean water for all, renewable energy, the environment, cultural heritage, vacationing at the beach, water sports, sailing, boating, eating seafood, Croatia’s (or Italy’s) Adriatic and a quality of life based upon harmony with our planet in the face of greed and violation then this end-of-the-year post (originally written on 30 December 2014) is for you! No apologies, it’s a long one. I ask you to share it widely on all social media platforms. (Efforts are underway to translate it into multiple languages – hyperlinks will be offered in this paragraph as completed.)  Many thanks for an amazing year to all my readers. Sretana Nova godina, Happy New Year.

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I think about consequences – all the time (including how many people I might piss off as a result of writing this, and how).  I am not (though perfectly capable to be) a corporate consultant of scenario planning. I see inter-dependencies in ways that most people rushing through their lives never consider. What stimulates me must be for a greater good, and my heart and head must find a perfect balance for me to say – YES!  A lot of things ignite my passions and expertise but for me to engage it always comes down to integrity and authenticity.  This post is about the Venn Diagram offered by the convergence of the Croatian economy, its environment and how the manipulation of European Union regulations could have a devastating and far reaching effect. This is about shortsightedness, immediate gratification for individuals and how their greed, if one thing goes horribly wrong, will destroy one of the greatest treasure troves of untouched historic, ecological and economic value in the world and the livelihoods of a people who have depended upon the Adriatic for tens of thousands of years.  This blog post is about finding a way, with all of your help (please, PLEASE SIGN THIS Change.org PETITION as well as THIS Avaaz petition and then SHARE BOTH with friends), to turn back and make things as the Croatian tourist board says, “The Mediterranean as it once was”, and keep it that way for all of us but make it better economically for Croatians.

The Travel Channel references Croatian Bikinis (a Croatian bikini, btw, way is nude) and cliff diving, and if only once everyone wants to enjoy the freedom of laying on perfect golden sand and swimming in the sea waters ranging in colour from cobalt to aquamarine naked – and Anthony Bourdain is talking about the food and how beautiful it is here, well, expect those numbers to grow. It would be an understatement to say that the impact of tourism is huge and should be amongst the greatest market segments to be cultivated in Croatia.  And yet, the right hand doesn’t seem to know what the left hand is doing here (not unique to Croatia) or they would have blocked this effort. Don’t Croatian ministers actually strategise in their cabinet meetings?

I am in Croatia because I am trying to determine if I can make this my permanent home. (Now back in the United States unhappily let me say I actually found a home in Croatia.) Save for the fact that I am here in the dead of winter, I was drawn here largely because of the Adriatic – just as some 11.5 million people who came in the summer of 2012. Put that into perspective, a narrow band of Dalmatia hosting nearly 4 times the population of the entire country within a three month (between June and August).

(Emphasis in the following is my own.)

The first page of Lonely Planet’s guide to Croatian music festivals reads:

Sonus Music Festival

http://www.sonus-festival.com/ Pag Island Croatia August 2015

“Croatia’s music festival scene is flourishing, with exciting new events popping up each summer. A lovely natural setting is pretty much guaranteed, with idyllic beaches, lakes, meadows and forest clearings hosting crowds of delighted festival-goers.”

Rough Guides best of the Croatian coast landing page reads:

When it comes to beaches in Croatia, the best advice is to head south: it’s on the Dalmatian coast where the most seductive sandy shores, pebbly coves and sun-fried rocks are to be found. Indeed all of the beaches that made our list are in Dalmatia, except for one (the bewitchingly sandy island of Susak in the Kvarner Gulf). A sizeable collection of swoon-inducing destinations has been left off this list, largely for simple reasons of accessibility: islands like Korčula, Vis and Šolta boast any number of heavenly bays […].”

Croatia has been named the #1 world travel destination on the rise according to Fodor’s. The value of tourism to Croatia’s economy (like so many things here) is subject to wide ranges of statistics – the EU says 15%, while locals estimate that it makes up as much as 40% of the entire Croatian annual budget.  Croatia’s Minister of Tourism,  Darko Lorencin, said that the first six months of 2014 totaled € 2.12 billion, which was 2.2% more than the same period last year.  Estimates put 69% of the Croatian economy coming from the services industries – things like renting sailboats, bar and restaurant trade (offering seafood from the beautifully clean waters) and yes, those taking care of all those sheets and towels. If you take words of The World Bank’s front page on Croatia’s economy as sacred, then:

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Drvenik Channel, the Croatian Adriatic, view from my balcony 30 December 2014 to where I have been swimming for the last two months.

Croatia remains an ecological treasure in Europe, with 47% of its land and 39% of its sea designated as specially protected areas and areas of conservation. Croatia boasts 19 National and Nature Parks, with some- such as the Plitvice Lakes National Park – designated as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites. Croatia’s natural beauty draws in millions of tourists each year, with tourism revenues representing around 15% of the country’s GDP. Preservation of the environment is high on the development agenda and has been a requirement for European Union membership.”

BP over Adriatic

This map, provided by Richard West, shows the scope of the BP Gulf Oil Spill, aka Deepwater Horizon spill, as overlaid against the Adriatic; it wouldn’t ‘just be’ Croatia impacted but also Italy, Slovenia, Montenegro and Albania.

So, after two months of swimming in these pristine waters the fight for keeping the Adriatic clean is now VERY PERSONAL to me! WTF!? Why, oh WHY!?, would anyone think that drilling for gas and oil in these waters is a good idea? Even if there isn’t an environmental catastrophe on the scale of the (British Petroleum) Gulf Oil Spill (I wish someone would overlay the map at left against a similar one showing the whole of the Adriatic to see what might happen) from one of the ten platforms currently licensed to operate in Croatian waters, the impact on the developing film industry (Game of Thrones et al), tourism, fishing – Eurostat figures for 2013 put the export value € 115.2 million, archaeology (at the bottom of the sea) and culture, and yes, the preservation of these rare dolphins, let alone the livelihood of more than 50% of the Croatian population from even the smallest accident could be catastrophic. To which point I was just (8 Feb) introduced to the technical expertise and wisdom of Croatia’s internationally, and highly, educated Nenad Duplančić.  If you are Croat read this from Dignitea Hvar in your language, if you are from any place else I BEG YOU to use a translation tool to grasp the importance of his commentary on the proposed drilling in the Adriatic.  For the rest of you new drilling platforms have been banned in the United States since 1969 so you start to understand why (to maintain corporate earnings and salaries) multinational oil companies are looking at impoverished countries to exploit and destroy (unemployment here in Croatia is above 23%).

Barbara Doric

Barbara Dorić – perhaps someone should be checking her bank accounts?

As I see it the Ministers of the Croatian government who should be fighting this with every fiber of their collective being include: Ministry of Culture, Ministarstvo culture, Mrs. Andrea Zlatar, Ministry of Economy, Ministarstvo gospodarstva, Mr. Ivan Vrdoljak, (who SHOULD BE looking at wave, wind and solar technologies and ditching petrochemical energy altogether because as Duplančić points out this industry is near it’s logical end), Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection, Ministarstvo zaštite okoliša i prirode, Mr. Mihael Zmajlović, Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Ministarstvo pomorstva, prometa i infrastrukture , MPPI RH, Mr. Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministarstvo poljoprivrede, Mr. Tihomir Jakovina and, of course, the Ministry of Tourism, Ministarstvo turizma or MINT, Mr. Darko Lorencin. So ask yourselves why a company blocked from exploration on the Italian side of the Adriatic should be given reign to do so by the head of the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency, Barbara Doric? (Who, quite frankly, should be stripped of her citizenship and exiled to a very dirty beach for her role in promoting this debacle.)  Croatians are hardly indifferent to the beauty and life provided by their location – when so often you hear them express “who could buy this?” with a broad sweep of their arms across the vista offered by their Rivas and the Adriatic. Could it be that the Italians actually understand all that is at stake better than the Croatians?  

Saudi Arabia is manipulating the oil markets to keep the price of crude artificially low to discourage the further development and expansion of renewable energy, and with croatia nudethe established dangers of hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas it should be clear to everyone that petrochemicals are the very last thing that should be anywhere near a Croatian bikini.

This isn’t my country, yet I am supremely indignant about this and I hope all of you reading this are too.  Haven’t we seen enough destruction and war over the greed and insatiable consumption that comes with oil and gas? Climate change scientists indicate that a rise of sea levels will wipe out coastal communities around the world, hello? has anyone looked to see how much of Croatia’s population lives at very nearly sea level? In Europe climate change is expected to magnify regional differences in natural resources and assets. Negative impacts will include increased risk of inland flash floods and more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion (due to storminess and sea level rise) and is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydro-power potential, summer tourism and, in general, crop productivity.

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Photo source: Croatia Week online magazine

It needs to stop – now. 16 February is the deadline for open comments to the Croatian government, the form required for submission is found here.  It has painstakingly been translated into English to the right of the original Croatian so, REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU LIVE, non Croatians who care about our seas can also submit comment. Please do! As you can imagine this fight is going to get expensive from a legal perspective, please “help with the heavy lifting” by making a contribution to the Clean Adriatic Sea Alliance.

Croatians have a real chance to set a world standard for clean energy working in tandem with the rest of their economy but it takes all kinds of people, everywhere, to put their ‘big boy and big girl pants on’ and say NOT HERE, NOT NOW, NOT EVER, and cap those wells and dismantle those ten platforms.  Join me?

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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