Friday, 26 March 2010

Potentino in Peril

Known as the 'Golden Basin' because of its wonderful fertility, the valley between Seggiano and Montegiovi shows no signs of modern intervention.  A paradise of bio-diversity dotted with mixed plots of vineyards,  olive groves, orchards, vegetable gardens and chestnut woods.  It is dominated by the Castello di Potentino, a national monument and a wine-making estate, owned by relatives of the writer Graham Greene. (Decanter 4 stars and Guida L'Espresso 5 bottles - top 12 wines in Tuscant 2010).  Thanks to the lack of construction it has remained more or less unaltered since Medieval times and there is evidence of much earlier  farming found in the Etruscan wine-making stones by the river.

Now, after centuries untouched, it is under threat - a project for a well being centre about 

500m from the castle and various other connected residential structures with asphalted access.

It is sadly only one example of what appears to be a symptomatic destruction of a historic rural heritage - the Val D'Orcia famous for its classic Tuscan look used in films like the ENGLISH PATIENT is also suffering from similar concrete invasions.  Montepo, another wine estate owned by the Biondi Santi family has been completely surrounded by wind towers.  Basically, local councils are short of money as EU grants and certain taxes are no longer designated to them, so they are merrily giving away remunerative permissions on the only resources they have left - the unique Tuscan landscape which the tourists come for and the very image which help sell its famous wine and food abroad.  A very effective auto-destruction.

1 comment:

Rose Daly said...

Hi Charlotte:
Very sad news indeed. Is there anything that could be done about the development? Could the valley become a World Heritage Site (Isn't most of Italy a WHS?)

I know WHS status has pros and cons, once you have it then you can't develop, and Dresden recently had their status as a WHS revoked because they did develop extensively which changed the historic fabric of the city.

Isn't it also required to excavate before this type of development? Or are foundations not being built? I am working a Etruscan bronze vessel right now so the Etruscans are often on my mind.

Please keep putting updates on the blog and facebook, it's great to be able to keep up with Potentino.