04 – Gabbro

Trip 1 – September 11-12, 2008 – Gabbro, Italy + Rosignano Marrittimo

We saw it! Finally we saw it! After months of discussion we actually went to the property and town we plan to revitalize. As expected the building was beautiful……..and a disaster; but I defintely can understand why there is such an infatuation with trying to restore it to its earlier splendor. Inside there are amazing frescoes that look museum quaility as well as many unique building features. From a distance it sticks out over the trees on its hilltop and looks like a picture set; but when you come close it looks unfortunately like a wreck. We learned yesterday that there are apparently many secrets in the frescoes relating to the “Masons” which adds to its mystery and appeal. 

We met up with the two town champions for restoring the villa and they gave us much insight and review about the town’s hopes. the villa is such a great facility its sad to have it go unused but the costs will be enormous. They would like to find an agency/corporation willing to fix its up and use it, while also allowing the community to have a strong presence with community events/fairs/meetings/etc.

After surveying the site and photographing every room/wall/window/doorway we walked up to the village of Gabbro about 600m away. This was my chance to really try some Italian. The village was rather quiet until we found the central palazzo. Here were the restaurants, shops, and services for the entire town; including all the old Italian men who seem to spend their days sitting and staring in the coffee bars. It seems to be a common trend here (we’ve dubbed them the “Man bars,” no women allowed). We spent most of the afternoon taking a register of services & ammenities that we would use to support the potential studies center we would reccomend.

The evening we moved into the town’s only hotel, an Agriturismo resort about 5 km away in the hills. If you have never been to an agriturismo its much like a farm with a small bed and breakfast in the fields of its Vineyard. Again, like everywhere in Tuscany, they halo hours of the evening gave us some brillant photos that looked like the backdrop of a theather set. So still and serene at twilight. We even got our hands dirtied and picked grapes with the family while learning more Italian and paritcipating in process the grapes into juice. We then had the most amazing dinner. Dr. Oswald and I drove with our project champion to the grocery store in the next town; bought all the mediteranean food we could get and returned a feast of olives, cheeses, tomatoes, breads, cured meats and vino. We had a grand Italian evening with a pituresque backdrop. I also did two runs while I was there with I can’t describe the views I had and will miss.

The next day we went to the main town containing the municipalities government to meet with the Vice Sindaco (Vice-Mayor); our other project champion. He speaks no Engilsh. Luckily our two other friends did. So between me and them we asked our questions and translated them back to the group. We also videotaped everything to make sure we missed nothing. It was an interesting a productive meeting that really help direct our business plan so we could really provide a useful product for the comune (municipality).

Afterwards, on the Vice Sindaco’s suggestion, we went a this grand fortress by the water that had an exibition of art local to the region. Apparently Rosignano (the comune) was the beginning of the impressionist age in Italy. It was spectacular, the movement they could capture as well as perspective. During the museum we got a text from a friend notifying us that the train workers would soon be on strike so evasive action must be taken. Not wanting to be stranded we decided it would be best to get home rather than stay another day. So we ran to the train station; caught the next train to Firenze, and then back to Castiglion F (about 4 hours of trians). It was nice to be on the train becuase we could spread out, take a breather from each other, do some work (we’ve been running around so much collecting data – we needed to crunch our numbers) and collect a nap. So we are back at home base now and hope to spend the weekend there to get allot done with our Professor in town for just three more days, until we leave for Rome on Tuesday. Ciao Ciao – Steven

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