I have returned to Italy for the second time this year for a short meeting of the executive committee of the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO). Our host for this year’s meeting is Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI) or the Italian National Trust, a remarkable INTO member which has saved 54 properties and protected 6 million square meters of historic landscape in Italy since 1975. Over the past two days we have been meeting with the FAI staff at their headquarters in Milan and have toured three wonderful – and unique – FAI properties. Along the way the 15 members of the INTO executive committee have learned more about the Italian model of preservation while we share our own experiences and shape strategy for the group for the year ahead.
FAI’s headquarters in Milan is in a historic equestrian exercise rink that has been marvelously repurposed for 21st century office use. The space, desks, and equipment are all modern and set up for strong collaboration, yet the entire new three-floor interior addition could be removed without damaging the historic fabric of the walls and windows. Along with other members of the executive committee, I had the privilege of speaking to more than 100 staff of FAI, in my case telling them of NTHP’s work on the future of preservation and our ReUrbanism efforts launched just last week.
After a day of work at FAI headquarters, we traveled to Villa Necchi Campiglio – a 1930s villa in the heart of Milan – for a tour by FAI volunteers and dinner with the organization’s senior management.
This villa was designed by Piero Portaluppi and showcases the lifestyle of the Milanese upper-middle class in the period before WWII. It was a delightful evening, where connections were made for future work together.
Friday began bright and early, as we headed to Lake Como to begin a day of touring of two extraordinary sites, including FAI’s most popular – and heavily visited – villa. I’ll end with a shot to whet the appetite, but due to the late hour here in Milan and the slowness of my wireless connection, I’ll post many more pictures later.
More to come…