This is Cretto di Burri, an amazing piece of land art created by Alberto Burri in Sicily from 1984-1989. But more on that later.
I'm thinking about the people of who find a way of being art warriors. People who do something to protect our heritage and make our environments something that we can continue to love and to appreciate. I kind of dig these guys. But if you don't understand Italian I'm going to simplify it all for you. They're the Legambiente, which translates to the Environmental League in Italian. Think of them as a greens group, who, in addition to addressing the toll of human activity on the Italian environment also take a comprehensive look at cultural heritage in Italy, with the view that the patrimony or cultural heritage is multi layered and exists in town and country..
They came to my attention after coining the term archeomafia. The concept was based on the black market for stolen artifacts and products looted from the innumerable archaeological sites in Italy, as well as misconduct in cultural institutions which placed objects at risk. Each year they tabled a report to determine the cost of illegal environmental and cultural activity to the environment, and to the state as a whole. Because some people only react to cold hard numbers these days.
From the 27 May thru June 2nd, they are spearheading a nationwide event called Voler Bene all'Italia which translates to something like Love (your) Italy. The event, with a major focus on Naples, one of Italy's most underrated and challenged cities, will feature almost 200 events in various parts of the country designed to get citizens to better appreciate their heritage with the end goal of encouraging citizens to be more mindful of their environment(s) and to do their bit in protecting them.
In Naples, a city whose current state belies the fact that it was once one of the richest and most important cities in all of Europe, participants in the event will be encouraged to reexamine their environment. Naples was, even further back, the mother city: Neapolis, and any visit there will peel thousands of years of continuous settlement before your eyes. It will blow your mind if you can get over the fear of the criminal element that it is now associated with.
Italy's rich heritage means that many of its most notable sites are known the world over. Sites that belong not only to the Italians, but to the world in general. Problems with the economy and funding have meant that many of these sites have fallen into disrepair. In some cases, EU intervention has been widely documented and helped turn back the scope of degradation.
But part of the problem, in any country facing economic difficulty, is raising the awareness of how cultural heritage needs defending, even in the most difficult of fiscal times. This is a country where even some of its smallest towns play host to historical sites of incredible beauty and relevance, and whose tourist based economy would flounder should they no longer be in a condition to attract visitors.
So, if you're in Italy between the 27th of May and the 2nd of June, click on the link, get your Google translate button at the ready, and discover something off the beaten track. If you're near Trapani in Sicily, perhaps you might want to head out to Cretto di Burri, whose restoration is going to be announced as part of the week long festivities. You'll be doing your part, and it could do you some good to get away from the busloads of tourists whose greatest hits tours miss the essence of this country's spectacular and varied history.