What is FAI and what does it manage?
FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano (the Italian National Trust) is a trust that manages a set of assets of exceptionally high value in terms of their history, culture, landscape and natural heritage, with a view to conserving, supporting and enhancing the environment on behalf of the Italian people and those from further afield. Dealing with the environment means dealing not only with the places where people live but also with how people live, develop and operate in those places. It is in this sense that FAI is concerned with the landscape, which according to the Italian Code of Cultural Assets is territory that encapsulates a sense of identity, the character of which derives from the action of natural and human factors and from the inter-relations of those factors.
By "landscape" we mean, then, a living organism undergoing constant evolution, representing the encounter between natural elements and human activity in the fields of town planning, architecture, art, economics, rurality and handicraft, which have over time become stratified and have taken their place within a complex and dynamic system of relationships.
In addition to embracing the definition of "landscape" set out in the "European Landscape Convention", FAI operates above all on the basis of the constitutional legislation, which acknowledges the landscape's value in terms of culture and identity a value that belongs to the entire nation and, as such, is subject to protection.
Article 9 of the Constitution of the Italian Republic states: "The Republic safeguards the landscape and the historic and artistic heritage of the Nation".
FAI's five guiding principles
The work done by FAI, and by those who pursue its mission, is based on five fundamental principles: knowledge, substance, coherence, independence, quality.
Knowledge is defined as the "relationship between subject and object, between thought and being". If the object of FAI's attention is the environment and, therefore, the landscape, with all of its material, cultural and social implications all of FAI's actions must be geared towards putting human beings (the subjects) in touch or back in touch with the highest and most noble characteristics of Italy's landscape and culture (the objects).
FAI does not limit itself to hoping, theorising and thinking rather, with great determination, it actually implements its ideas, bringing to fruition projects that support its efforts to achieve the aims for which it was established. The substantiality of FAI's approach is manifested through its effectiveness (i.e. the Trust's capacity to reach its objectives), and its efficiency (i.e. the Trust's intelligent and appropriate use of the tools at its disposal). FAI is dedicated to implementing a contagious, pro-active form of substantiality (working as far as possible WITH and not AGAINST) with a view to creating a group of citizens united in their commitment to making Italy a better country.
FAI's objective in this regard is to demonstrate that it PRACTICES WHAT IT PREACHES by providing evidence to that end. Coherence is ethical in that "the relationship between the choice of conduct that one wishes to pursue and the search for appropriate means to put it into practice" is what ethics is all about.
In pursuing its mission, FAI operates with freedom of thought and action and is totally independent of any movement or political, religious, ideological or economic affiliation. FAI has no political connotations and is always willing to work with whomsoever shares its ideas and its ethical/cultural approach towards the pursuit of the common good.
For FAI, quality is all about striving towards an objective that is situated in an ideal dimension; it means trying to achieve the best possible result using the resources at its disposal. For FAI, quality means striving towards excellence in everything it does, from the smallest initiatives to the most ambitious. The paradigms of excellence that we can relate to, and by which we must measure ourselves in our ongoing endeavours, are Nature and Art.
For whose benefit does FAI operate?
FAI's work should be considered to all intents and purposes a social activity, because the beneficiaries of FAI's work are people. People are also valuable and indispensable allies of FAI in the fulfilment of its mission; if FAI had no members, if its properties had no visitors, if there were no major national events, FAI would be nothing more than a property trust with no outreach at all.
The relationship between FAI and people occurs on three levels:
on the cognitive level, by promoting knowledge, understanding and awareness of Italy's national and cultural identity
on the affective and emotive level, through initiatives that engage with the senses and the emotions
on the active and substantial level, encouraging people to demonstrate civic engagement and to share actively in its mission by volunteering and making donations.
People are, then, both beneficiaries and supporters of FAI's actions: giving to FAI also means receiving from FAI.
With whom does FAI operate?
FAI operates for the people and with the people with all those bodies such as associations, groups and committees in which many cultured individuals pool their strengths and muster them towards a common cause.
FAI operates for schools and with schools.
FAI operates for the common good and, therefore, with all of the public and private bodies that work towards that same goal: the State, the Regions, the Provinces, the Municipalities, banking trusts and companies.
FAI operates at all times with those who stimulate, facilitate and share its purposes and its mission. FAI is an aggregating force for all of the best resources that work towards making Italy more conscious and aware of its own history, beauty and identity...because strength comes from working together.
How does FAI operate?
FAI's main areas of action are:
protection, enhancement and management for the community of the properties and land that it owns or that are licensed to it
protection and enhancement of the Italian properties and land that it owns or that are licensed to it, with a particular focus on elements of the country's heritage that have been neglected or are at risk
training and education of all citizens, with a particular focus on children, young people and students.
Other essential elements in FAI's operations are courage, wonder, levity, emotions, mental openness and elasticity, and courtesy.