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How to revive the increasingly deserted, rural valleys of the Italian Alps? Associazione Canova is a not-for-profit initiative dedicated to restoring abandoned villages, perpetuating their traditional skills and keeping their history alive.
At the heart of a small valley in northern Piedmont, the village of Canova is noted for its fine stone buildings, and the dynamic organisation that bears its name. Founded in 2001, the Canova Association organises international Field Schools to restore and promote the region’s rustic stone architecture, together with concerts and exhibitions, raising public awareness of this precious local heritage.
The association works to restore the villages’ ancestral dwellings, convinced of the relevance of their traditional architecture to modern society. Italian and international students work with qualified leaders to learn age-old building techniques, in association with local artisans. Field Schools also tour the surrounding region, gaining a broad, balanced understanding of the area’s culture and lifestyle.
Not far from Canova lies Ghesc, a medieval village abandoned over a century ago. Overgrown with vegetation, Ghesc has become a working laboratory, extending the association’s practical research into the local heritage. The site is the theatre for a comprehensive restoration programme, supported by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. An initial restored building provides a base and headquarters for further research and renovation work. A second building, targeted for restoration, will provide accommodation for visiting Field Schools, as a forum for knowledge sharing and skills transmission.
The project was selected for support by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès as part of the H³ programme: Head – heart – hand.