Here, in one of the last Tuscan valleys to have remained entirely unspoilt since medieval times, the local comune has received an application to build a “well-being centre” 500 metres from a national monument, the Castello di Potentino, along with other residential structures, all requiring asphalted access. A hotel, in short – no matter that other hotels in the area are empty for much of the year.
…it’s the old story – greed and short-termism, but all given new momentum by the financial crisis engulfing Italy, and fuelled by a lack of pastoral leadership from Rome. The final defence against despoliation is Article Nine of the Italian constitution. It declares that the state must protect the historic heritage and cultural landscape of the country. That constitutional responsibility has been comprehensively devolved to local governments.
The result? Tuscans are gradually losing the landscape that lures visitors from around the world. They may also, in due course, lose the visitors. So a word to the wise. If you want to visit that postcard in your head for real, book early to avoid disappointment. Pretty soon a fantasy is all that will be left.