First of all, how great is it that there is a word in Italian (“ecomostro“) for a building that doesn’t harmonize well with its surrounding environment?
It’s either really great or really upsetting, depending on how you look at it… and how many ecomostri you’ve seen in Italy.
Either way, the whole region of Emilia is a buzz today with the impending demolition of this hideous, abandoned vertical pig farm that has been blighting the countryside next to Canossa Castle for decades.
We (my marito and I) have a particular vested interest in its demise, as we work in the architectural industry in this area and we have a project proposal in the works for a site just nearby, where we would like to build our own house some day. Our hopes are to contribute to the desire of the region and council to call attention to the environmental and historic significance of this part of Italy – the lands of Matilde di Canossa. We’d like to explore integrated green roofs as an alternative method of historic landscape integration.
Sorry, I’ll try to go back to being funny now.
Matilde, for those of you who don’t know, was a badass lady. She was a noblewoman with a great deal of power in the 11th and 12th centuries (which is impressive on its own). On top of that, she was the mediator of the largest controversy between Church and State in medieval Europe.
That’s right. She was a pretty big deal.
And the Castle of Canossa was the location where it all went down. In English history books, we call this series of arguments the Investiture Controversy. It was when the Pope and the European monarchies were fighting over the appointment of bishops, and (long story, short, which I will explain in a future article about the lands of Matilde)… Henry IV got himself in a sticky situation where he had to apologize to Pope Gregory VII.
Turns out, kings don’t really like to apologize, so things were tense at this point.
The Pope was staying at the Castle of Canossa because of Matilde’s close relationship with the Catholic Church. So she is often credited with mediating this dramatic apology, during which the king camped outside the castle walls for three days in the snow… while presumably, Matilde was inside trying to convince Greg to let him in.
In English, she is referred to as “Matilda of Tuscany“, which is odd since Canossa is her ancestral castle even though she owned lands all over the place. It could be that Canossa was considered part of Tuscany at that time, I don’t know. But I think we should make a concerted effort to return her English title to her ancestral land.
“Matilda of Canossa”, she shall henceforth be called!
Now then, back to the ecomostro: Matilda would NEVER have put up with this crap. In fact, she was known for financing some of the most beautiful medieval churches in Italy. There’s a network of wonderful hiking trails (il Sentiero di Matlide) that you can take through the lands of Canossa to view some of the remaining ones.
So, it is with great pleasure that this thing is being demolished, and we can get back to creating beautiful architecture.
Here’s the program poster of the day’s events. I apologize for not getting this up before the events on Friday (which I would have liked to attend, myself!). But, better late than never, right?
UPDATE: demolition has begun!
It will take about a month to completely remove the hiddeousness that it is the Pig Farm of Canossa. But I am happy to report that yesterday’s start went well. I would say at least a couple hundred people (maybe more) turned out for the suspenseful start. I’ll try to go back throughout the month and get more photos as it gets cleared. Supposedly after we left, there were hot air balloons that took off from the base of the site. Did anyone get to see them?