In July 2020 the heritage sector lost one of it’s fiercest protectors. Here, we take a look at the remarkable work of Giulia Maria Crespi and the legacy she leaves behind.
Giulia Maria Crespi is the founder and tireless promoter of the mission of FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano, together with Renato Bazzoni and Franco Russoli and Alberto Predieri of FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano, a not for profit organization modeled on the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. FAI’s goal is to contribute to the protection, conservation and enhancement of Italy’s artistic legacy, natural heritage and landscape. What is your job?
Since its origins, Mrs Crespi’s personality and her inner strength have been the steering wheel of the Foundation.
She has devoted her life to the defense of her country’s heritage and her opinion is valued as very authoritative in Italy today. Thanks to her outstanding commitment she received the highest ranking honor of the Italian Republic in 2003, the “Dama di Gran Croce dell’Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana“.
She was very active also in the field of biodynamic agriculture, as she served in the Council of the Association for Biodynamic Agriculture which promotes awareness this subject, which is often forgotten by Italian media and by most people in the country.
Giulia Maria Crespi was born into one of the oldest and most important Lombard families, traditionally very active in the industrial and cultural fields. She was always very involved in charitable activities: from childhood until 1960 she worked for the Associazione Ape Laboriosa, devoted to helping poor children in Milan’s outskirts; after World War II she spent her time for the Fondazione Crespi Morbio in Sesto San Giovanni helping families with numerous children; in the same period and until 1970 she volunteered for Opera San Francesco per i poveri (an association for people in hardship) run by Capucine monks in Milan.
At the beginning of the 1970s, Mrs Crespi met Elena Croce, daughter of the great philosopher Benedetto Croce, who convinced Mrs Crespi to create the Italian version of the more famous National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. At first, Mrs Crespi was sceptic, thinking about the many cultural and artistic differences between Italy and the United Kingdom, but the encounter with another unique personality, Renato Bazzoni, convinced her of the validity of the idea and thus FAI came into being. Indeed, on 28 April 1975, FAI’s constitution and statute were signed by Giulia Maria Crespi, Renato Bazzoni, Alberto Predieri and Franco Russoli, who were filled with enthusiasm and ambition for their long-cherished dream: a foundation entirely devoted to the protection, conservation and education of the public with regards to Italy’s unique and magnificent artistic and environmental heritage.
Since 1975, after 43 years, FAI counts more than 170,000 active members, 57 properties under its care (of which 36 are open on a regular basis and with services for the public) and is widely known across the whole of Italy, with a clear objective: to contribute to the protection, conservation and enhancement of the heritage of Italy’s art, nature and landscape. Before her passing Signora Crespi served as FAI’s Honorary President.
Signora Crespi leaves a profound impression on the National Trust movement internationally and her legacy will live on in the beautiful places throughout Italy that she so fiercely protected.