The Convento di San Bernardino – Casa Olivetti in Ivrea has been donated to FAI by the Olivetti heirs and TIM. A major restoration project financed by the Ministry of Culture and Compagnia di Sanpaolo to tell the story of Adriano Olivetti’s enterprise in the place that was once the family home.
Dedicated to Giulia Maria Crespi on the centenary of her birth
The Convento di San Bernardino in Ivrea, which was once the home of the Olivetti family, will be a new FAI Property, thanks to the donation announced today by Marco Magnifico, FAI President and Beniamino de’ Liguori Carino, grandson of Adriano Olivetti, one of the many heirs who donated the church and the first to have realised this opportunity. They came together in the convent’s church, in the presence of a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance such as the cycle of frescoes Life and Passion of Christ by the painter Giovanni Martino Spanzotti (1455-1528), and were joined by Secretary General of the Adriano Olivetti Foundation, and TIM, which donated the Convent, represented in a video message by Chairman Salvatore Rossi and in person by Maria Enrica Danese the Director of Institutional Communications, Sustainability Projects & Sponsorship.
The convent and its church, thus reunited in the ownership and management of FAI, will be the subject of a major restoration and enhancement project made possible by the €6 million funding that the Ministry of Culture – represented today by Undersecretary of State Vittorio Sgarbi – has earmarked for this, recognised as one of the “Major Cultural Heritage Projects” of its Strategic Plan.
Elaborated by FAI, supported by historical-archival studies and diagnostic campaigns, and shared throughout with the competent Superintendency, the restoration project will be coordinated by the Ministry itself through the Regional Secretariat as Contracting Authority.
THE RESTORATION PROJECT
Once the necessary administrative procedures have been completed, the building site will open in mid-2024 and will last two years: the conservative restoration of the historical buildings, the upgrading of standards and systems and seismic improvement will be tackled, with the utmost attention paid to solutions for environmental sustainability and energy saving, and the re-functioning of the interior and exterior spaces, for regular opening to the public and the provision of cultural and reception services.
The work will be carried out in lots: first on the convent, in need of structural and major works, then on the church, and then on the building’s twentieth-century appurtenances – from the tennis and bocce courts to the equipped path in the park on the Monte Navale hill – for an overall recovery of more than 40,000 square metres of historic buildings and greenery in the heart of the architecture of the industrial city of Ivrea, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Alongside the restoration project, there is the cultural valorisation project, which FAI has conceived and will develop in terms of content in close collaboration with the Fondazione Adriano Olivetti, the reference institution for the Olivetti legacy, and which it will develop thanks to the support of and relations with local entities and resources: the Municipality and the Piedmont Region, which have always been involved in the project, to the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation, which will finance the valorisation project that will guarantee the economic sustainability of the Property; the Olivetti Historical Archives Association to the Spille d’Oro (Golden Brooches), which will contribute to guaranteeing the opening of the church to the public while awaiting the restoration site, and to the Canavese business network ICONA Srl, owner of the adjacent ICO Workshops opened on Viale Jervis, where the Visitors’ Centre is today, which in the project will also become the access point to the Convent of San Bernardino, thus integrated into the UNESCO site for the benefit of a unique, richer, more varied and attractive cultural and tourist proposal.
THE NEW FAI PROPERTY DEDICATED TO GIULIA MARIA CRESPI
The San Bernardino Convent, which has been the home of the Olivetti family – Camillo, his wife Luisa Revel and their six children – since 1908, and the headquarters of the Gruppo Sportivo Ricreativo Olivetti (Olivetti Recreational Sports Group) since the 1950s, will once again become a cultural and recreational centre open to all.
It is a historical property to be visited, whose 15th-century architectural and artistic evidence will be preserved and enhanced, but also an ancient place that tells a modern story, which no one here has yet told: the human and family, cultural, political and entrepreneurial story of Adriano Olivetti, who marked the history of our country with surprising echoes of international renown and extraordinary topicality.
A chapter in the history of Italy will be reread through the story of an undisputed protagonist such as Adriano Olivetti, who will also be recounted, although in the context of public events, in his private and familiar side: human, cultural and even spiritual. The Convent, moreover, lends itself perfectly to this tale, as it fully embodies the Olivetti spirit thanks to its symbolic ability to integrate the industrial vision with the cultural component, technology with art, the ancient with the modern, but also the factory with the family and with man, the material dimension with the spiritual one.
It was precisely for this reason it was chosen as a residence by Camillo Olivetti and was always preserved, respected and integrated in the subsequent development of the city of Ivrea, which was entrusted to the best architects of the time, including Figini and Pollini and Ignazio Gardella, who defined it as a centre of poetry of urban composition and a fulcrum of Adriano Olivetti’s industrial vision, for whom the factory is not a brute machine, but a place where men work.
A history to be considered in itself a cultural asset, Italy’s intangible heritage, to be protected and handed down to present and future generations, as is the FAI’s mission. Not a museum, but a place in which to reconstruct and re-read, teach and promote the principles and ideas that shaped Adriano Olivetti and guided his enterprise, and that can still be an example and model of great inspiration for new enterprises, for future generations, and for communities of citizens – such as FAI – who feel and exercise their right and duty to contribute concretely, with awareness and responsibility, to the common good: as did Adriano Olivetti, and as did, with similar pioneering drive, determination and sentiment, the founder of FAI, Giulia Maria Crespi, to whom this 72nd FAI Property is dedicated, by virtue of their profound similarity of cultural and civic ideals.
THE VALORISATION PROJECT
The narrative will take place inside the Convent in an evocative multimedia narrative pathway through immersive projections and through spaces specially set up with original documents, personal and archive objects, to evoke the function of the home and the family’s lifestyle, a reflection of the culture and moral and ethical rigour of a religious, yet profoundly secular nature.
In the other rooms, services will be created to welcome the public, spaces intended for educational activities, especially for schools, as well as places for cultural and non cultural recreation: from multifunctional rooms for meetings, lessons, conferences and small temporary exhibitions to spaces for sports and games, all of which will be restored – the three tennis courts and the eight bocce courts, the billiard room inside and the Monte Navale life trail outside -, from a FAI shop to a café with refreshments.
FAI President Marco Magnifico said:
“To Giulia Maria Crespi, in the 100th year since her birth, the FAI has decided to dedicate this new undertaking in the awareness of the unity of attitude, spirit and intentions that, even though they never met and being part of two different yet very contiguous generations, binds her figure to that of Adriano Olivetti, who like her did good for Italy and Italians. Two figures equally moved by a moral rigour and an inner and spiritual travail that drove them (not to say obliged them) all their lives to dedicate their best efforts to ‘doing good for the Community”.
Maria Enrica Danese, TIM’s Director of Institutional Communication, Sustainability & Sponsorship, emphasised: “With our donation to the FAI of the San Bernardino Complex, an area of over 40,000 square metres that includes woodland and recreational areas, we wanted to make a unique artistic and cultural asset become part of the territory’s heritage, i.e. accessible to the public. There are many initiatives that we are putting in place for the enhancement of Italy’s artistic and cultural heritage, most of which see us committed to the technologies and services for their digitisation. This time it was necessary to start with a project for the recovery, restoration and management of public access, and in this sense FAI represents for TIM the partner of excellence, as it has always been committed to returning the great Italian beauties to the community. Indeed, we are convinced that the challenge of our country’s development must necessarily pass through the world of culture through projects like that of the Complex, which start from public and private resources and develop through a virtuous model of economic management. Being part of this initiative today makes us particularly proud’.
Beniamino de’ Liguori Carino, Secretary General of the Adriano Olivetti Foundation and Adriano’s nephew, commented: “As was the case for the UNESCO recognition of Ivrea as an Industrial City of the 20th Century, and in line with the 60-year history of our institution, the Adriano Olivetti Foundation is committed to this ambitious project to ensure that Olivetti’s cultural legacy and values represent the symbolic and above all lasting legacy of an idea of a new world built around the identity between material progress, spiritual values and the ethics of responsibility. And because they represent for the city of Ivrea an opportunity for new development. And of this, once again, we are very proud’.
Matteo Chiantore, Mayor of Ivrea, said: ‘I would like to thank all those who in various ways have contributed and will contribute to the realisation of this project of exceptional value. The recovery of the church, with its extraordinary frescoes, the convent and the sports area will offer a great opportunity to promote the site ‘Ivrea Città Industriale del XX Secolo’ (Ivrea Industrial City of the 20th Century) by returning these places to visitors and the people of Ivrea. The UNESCO recognition will be the main tool through which to promote a new image of our city and the enhancement of this area will make the enjoyment of our tangible and intangible cultural heritage even more complete’.