We are happy to publish an article by Francesco Sforza, regional president of the Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane (ADSI) in Lazio, explaining the mission of this important non profit organization.
by Francesco Sforza
The Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane, known by its acronym ADSI, is a private non profit organization that represents the largest concentration of private historical homes, gardens and castles in Italy. It was founded over 35 years ago to protect and help maintain this immense treasure for posterity. Except for a few rare cases where a ‘fedecommesso’ exists (a ‘fedecommesso’ derives from roman law and is an ancient form of ‘Trust’) many original homes with its treasures have been, over time, dismembered. What ADSI does is to lobby the government for fiscal and legislative benefits that help maintain such treasures. Our association is by number of members and historical homes represented, the largest in Europe, thus the largest in the world!
What we are now trying to do is to open to the outside many of these villas and castles where life is still lived following ancient traditions and where many hidden treasures are kept. In Rome, if I think of the Odescalchi Caravaggio, or the Colonna’s Vanvitelli collection and many others, which are open only upon demand, a whole world of tradition, well kept treasures, can be viewed privately by the refined connoisseur of fine art or the privileged few that have the curiosity to meet in real life the heirs of a glorious past of Italian history.
Italy is a country of strong tradition where many art forms or even lifestyle, have been a role model for Europe both in the past and at present. Many of the refined habits of the French court where brought by Caterina and Maria Medici when they married French kings. Today our fashion and even our food and wines are being sought after for their excellency and taste. Often the luxury consumer goods are copied, companies bought, thus risking to loose their identity. With historical homes, the ones in private hands of the original owners, tradition is defended and the ‘Italian way’ is maintained.
We have just launched a new internet site which will permit the cultured world traveller to meet these treasures, in some cases live in them, in the form of ‘slow holiday’, trying to capture the true essence of what cultural heritage is all about.
What ADSI is trying to do is not to have ‘Disneyesque’ castles – turned into tourist attractions with the amenities of modern facilities – but to keep alive a cultural experience that is true and authentic, and therefore all the more precious.