The Manarola Foundation Meeting

On Sunday September 9th, the Manarola Foundation organized a public event in the main square of Manarola, first of all to give a shout out to all the benefactors that have been supporting its activity during the last 4 years. The event had a wonderful turnout including locals and tourists. The main presenter was Luciano De Battè, an important member and “voice” of the Foundation. The presenter started the night by thanking Fabrizia Pecunia, the Mayor of Riomaggiore and Vincenzo Resasco, the President of National Park of Cinque Terre. He also gave thanks to the participants, Emanuele Raso, council member of Monterosso municipality and Margherita Ermirio, founder of the volunteer association “Tu Quoque Vernazza”.

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Sara Barani, a council member of the Foundation, highlighted the great success of the donation program. For example, in 2018, 54 local businesses made contributions totaling around 7.800€. This is proof of the important role of the Foundation that has been growing through years of involving more people and supporters.

The event was also a way “to publicly inform the members of what the Foundation has done in its first four years of life; because we can never forget that ours is a Foundation of Participation, starting from the bottom thanks to the initial donation of 126 founders, without whose help and support we would not be here tonight,” stated Claudio Rollandi before presenting some result. The efforts of the Foundation made it possible to restore a total of 11 hectars of abandoned fields, which now have the potential to produce 74.600 bottles of wine, with an annual gross amount of 1 million  (average price per bottle 15€).  Therefore, the unification process during the land grant phase to Agriculture Companies clearly shows the importance in terms of production increase rate. Then Rollandi acknowleged all the Foundation supporters, including the National Park of Cinque Terre (with whom the Foundation has established a solid collaboration), the Municipality of Riomaggiore that is committed to find the headquarters of the association, Aesseffe of La Spezia, Carispe Foundation, the Caritas Diocesana, the CIA, the University of Genoa and the Technical Institute of surveyors of La Spezia. To conclude his speech, Rollandi gave the floor to Christopher Terenziani, a former student of Technical Institute of Surveyors of La Spezia, who showed the project of Cinque Terre in terms of renewing the hiking trails. This project was a collaboration that of his former class 5S.

Giancarlo Celano together with Lauro Bordoni two members who manage and lead the “construction site” described a typical day of work in the fields in order to help the audience better understand the main focus and work of the Foundation. “We start to work in the morning cleaning up the terraces (from wild plants, grass, etc.) before working on the dry-stone walls. The tools used are always the same: grapnels, rakes, picks, etc. We work until midday with a short break in the middle. Unfortunately, this summer – proceeded Celano – we delayed the work due to hot temperatures. But I can assure you that the satisfaction at the end of the day was great: working in nature is both good for your health and mind”.

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In 4 years, the Foundation has carried out its activity mainly thanks to the kindness of local supporters, but now it is ready to make a step forward with the aim of extending the target of its donators to an international audience and to accessing public funding. With this in mind, the Foundation was able to create their first promotional video (thanks to the advice of Gianluca Biavati, a fundraiser). The principal aim of this video, produced by Micheal Pasini and Daniele Sarbunk, is to instill a deep sense of love and affinity towards the Manarola landscape, a unique spot in the world, where picturesque houses and vineyards melt together on rocks overlooking the sea. The debut of the video during the event was an emotional moment: aerial shots of terraced landscape, the man made work on almost vertical slopes, the hard work to build the dry-stone walls, glimpses of breathtaking view, words and love that shine through each and every frame.

Eugenio Bordoni, the Vice President of the Foundation, summed up the important potential of LIFE CLIMATE CHANGE project, the UE financial instrument for the environment and climate. This project has the goal to make the land more resilient against climate change effects through 3 main actions: cleaning up the abandoned fields, rebuilding the dry-stone walls and renovating the flood canals. The National Park of Cinque Terre immediately declared itself available to support this project, due to its high cultural and scientific value. Moreover, thanks to its coordinator role in the project, it was easier to find an international partner (Province of Barcelona, Spain) to join the consortium and another one in Greece that has already presented and won a similar project (the Commission assigns a higher evaluation on projects with easier replicability). Moreover, the contribution of the University of Genoa’s DISTAV department and Legambiente for their implication in geotechnical and scientific assessment, monitoring, communication and dissemination of their findings, have been fundamental for the project development.

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In case of a positive evaluation, it will be possible within the next 5  years to achieve a completely restored landscape, looking like it once was in the beginning of XX century, when all the area surrounding Manarola was cultivated with vineyards. The total amount of the project would cost around  3,7 million euros and the National Park of Cinque Terre has offered to  co-finance the project by contributing 1 million euros in 5 years. The timing: after September 12th, the day of project submission, the Commission will be evaluating all the projects for 60 days before releasing the final ranking. In case of a negative response, it will possible to submit the project  again in another two years. The proposal also includes a dry-stone building technical course with the aim of teaching and passing down the art of building to the course attendees (60 hours per 8 people, each year).

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The event ended with a prize-giving ceremony led by Fabrizio Capellini, the President of the Foundation. These awards were given to the local businesses that support the Foundation. Briefly the President of CIA La Spezia, Alessandro Ferrante, highlighted the importance of the work of the Foundation, giving his best wishes for its future projects and activities. The music played by the musicians Andrea Paganetto, Graziano e Marius Nardini, warmed up the atmosphere as well as the final toast, offered by the Partners Cooperativa Agricola Cinque Terre (for the wine) and La Dolciara of La Spezia (for the snacks).

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This event represented an important achievement for the Foundation, above all to remind everyone that “you walk fastest alone but together you you go further”.