Castelli di Lagnasco (CN) one of FAI's PLAces of the Heart. Image reproduced courtesy of Fondoambiente

Protecting Italian Heritage

Culture News

For considerably less hassle, and infinitely better choices than the general election, you can vote to preserve Italian heritage. The FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) national campaign, I Luoghi del Cuore (Places of the Heart) is underway.

FAI is a private, non-profit organisation working to preserve Italian heritage currently under threat. They describe themselves as the National Trust of Italy. FAI works in collaboration with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Intesa Sanpaolo Bank. Every other year, from May to December, Places of the Heart invites people to choose their most cherished Italian places from a curated list of important and often crumbling heritage sites.

Not only castles and monuments

As well as castles, churches, monuments and garden, there are natural wonders. This year, the Polesine area of the Po Delta features, a place which has been under considerable environmental pressure this year due to the drought.

Also on the list are special categories, including Villages and their places and Italy above 600 meters. The latter is a designation for mountainous areas.

FAI’s mission

Established in 1975, FAI’s mission is to protect Italy’s tangible structures and scenery that might otherwise be lost. Since 2003, Places of the Heart has collected 9.6 million votes for around 39,000 places across Italy.

An example of the success of FAI’s renovation and recovery projects is the Monastery of Torba, Castelseprio in the northern province of Varese. Privately purchased and donated to FAI in 1977, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Other notable protected FAI treasures include Villa Fogazzaro Roi on Lake Como, Olivetti shop in Venice, the ancient Giacalone barber shop in Genova and the Woods of Saint Francis in Assisi.

Votes equal funding

FAI Places of the Heart voting

This is more than a popularity contest. The more votes a location receives, the greater its chances of accessing much needed funds for restoration.

Voting is simple. Visit the website and scroll through the nominees. You can also filter on location or rankings. It’s also possible to add a place if it’s not already on the list.

Voting is open until December 15th, and every so often the rankings are updated on the website. Once voting is closed, the final positions will be announced with the top three eligible to apply for grants in the amounts of €30,000, €40,000 or €50,000.

How to vote in FAI’s ‘Places of the Heart’

The deadline for votes is December 15, 2022. The final winners will be announced in February 2023.

Voting is free and open to everyone; you don’t have to be an Italian to enter. Simply register on the I Luoghi del Cuore page and place your vote.

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