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Alice and Leopoldo’s attention for botany and biodiversity

Collezione tessile di “Tela Umbra”

The Franchetti’s left an ideal heritage and unique and complex material to the Alta Valle del Tevere area in inheritance, mainly to Città di Castello. The extraordinary experience of “Tela Umbra”, of the rural schools of Rovigliano and Montesca, together with the estate of the villa and the park of Montesca, the archive and Franchetti library, all represent the great, unified vision of modernity and development, which was extremely innovative for the time.

In these two places, where a classroom of a rural school has been reconstructed and the material produced by the children displayed, the spirit of outreach that motivated the Barons emerges in many fields from teaching to pedagogy, from botany to agriculture. The examples of the learning materials demonstrate the modernity of the Franchetti’s intuition, in particularly of Baroness Alice, with regards to the education and the love of nature and arboreous species, in favour of the transmission of the knowledge of the traditional techniques and plants of the area.

The miniature replication of utensils for agriculture, such as spades, ploughs or rakes, together with the glass containers with the seeds of different cereals demonstrate how deep this passion was and reciprocated by the children and the staff of the school.

In the Franchetti family archive, in buildings of the Regione Umbria, precious documents are stored that document how the Barons wanted to transmit their attention to botany and biodiversity to future generations. There are Alice’s notebooks about botany, herbal remedies and notebooks of experiments carried out by the children, and also photos that portray the children whilst they work the soil.

Evidence of the Barons interest in the environment is also preserved at Villa Montesca in Città di Castello. In the Franchetti library there are about 100 texts dedicated to botany, meanwhile, the park preserves numerous prestigious and rare tree species, specifically delivered for the Barons.