The first phase of major restoration work being completed, Podere Case Lovara at Punta Mesco, a patch of ancient rural landscape in the Cinque Terre National Park, is now open to the public. Anna Zegna, president of Fondazione Zegna, which funded the entire lot of restoration work, talked to us about it.
Where does Fondazione Zegna’s commitment to the environment and nature come from?
Our family foundation was set up in 2000 and inspired by and dedicated to our grandfather Ermenegildo Zegna, the founder of the Group, a businessman and patron of the arts of far-reaching vision. His “green philosophy”, which led him from the ‘30s onwards to transform the bare mountains around the Wool Mill by planting 500,000 conifers and thousands of rhododendrons, is still inspiring the actions of Fondazione Zegna in Italy and farther afield. Indeed, as ecologist ante litteram, he defined the principles that led us in 1993 to create Oasi Zegna, a protected area of 100 km2 and an open air workshop to promote the relationship between the community, nature and mountain culture, with a special focus on families and children. By following his example, quality and devotion to business can still live in harmony with safeguarding the natural environment, wellbeing and the cultural life of the community.
How did the collaboration with FAI start?
My father Angelo and uncle Aldo were among the first supporters of Fondo Ambiente Italiano, having been invited by Giulia Maria Crespi to join the “FAI 200”. From 2002 on, it was natural to share in FAI’s mission through Fondazione Zegna, thereby contributing to the safeguard and promotion of gardens in major estates in northern Italy, from Castello di Masino to Villa Della Porta Bozzolo. The values in which our family has always believed are what underpins this virtuous collaboration. In 2014 Oasi Zegna was granted FAI patronage and this marked the start of a new campaign together for the safeguarding and promotion of our territory.
Why did you choose to support the project to restore Podere Case Lovara?
Case Lovara at Punta Mesco, even though in a very different context, has deep similarities with Oasi Zegna and this made us undertake a 360° project, thanks also to the sharing of knowledge acquired in over 20 years of managing Oasi Zegna’s land and in our relationships with the community living on it. The tragic flooding in 2011 made it obvious that the landscape of the Cinque Terre, historically shaped by strong interdependence between nature and humans, can only survive of we find new models for environmental protection and sustainable development. Business – whether agriculture or tourism – is therefore crucial to the maintenance and protection of this particularly fragile territory.
What will this rebirth of Punta Mesco mean for the Cinque Terre as a whole?
The rebirth of Punta Mesco is a pioneering model of collaboration between the private and public sectors, at both national and local level. I’m convinced that for a project to fully succeed today there has to be collaboration between public and private. Know-how is shared like this but above all it engages the citizens, whose voluntary work is a fundamental resource for our country. What I see for the Cinque Terre is sustainable development based on the promotion and guidance of a style of responsible tourism capable of generating the resources needed to keep the territory in a good state of health. We should never forget that the planet is like a big garden in which we are the gardeners. A lot of foreigners are already coming to this place. The important thing now is to get Italians too, and especially the young, to fall in love with this corner of paradise perched between sea and sky.