The Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze supports the activity of the Chestnut Study and Documentation Centre with a view to fostering conservation, study and the spread of knowledge about chestnuts, as well as creating modern demo plants as an alternative to traditional chestnut growing. The chestnut trees are considered as veritable “patriarchs”, and represent a naturalistic and historic legacy of the greatest significance for Italy. They are authentic monuments within the landscape, and their longevity is of extreme importance even in economic-production terms in view of the significant genetic heritage which they bear, having survived unscathed through so many centuries of atmospheric adversities and climate changes.
Another aspect of the greatest importance is the role they play in soil protection. The chestnut woods indeed make a major contribution to combating deterioration of the soil and hydro-geological decay. They do this both directly – through an extremely robust root apparatus – and indirectly, as a result of the lush undergrowth of grass and shrubs.
The main aim of the Centre, which has its premises in Marradi in the province of Florence, is to promote information campaigns on the subject of the chestnut tree, using both innovative information systems and demonstrations.
The addressees of these initiatives are mainly those involved in chestnut growing: producers, technicians, associations, companies engaged in the transformation of the product, researchers, students and administrators from both public and private bodies.
Among the main goals of the programme are to boost the information aimed at the users, a substantial growth in unit production through an innovative management of the chestnut wood, an increase of competitiveness in the product marketing phase at local as well as national and international level and, finally, a greater involvement of young people in the management of new chestnut-growing initiatives which will be proposed through this project.
Particular attention is also paid to: the revival of ancient trades through the acquisition of traditional tools; the promotion and encouragement in schools of the topic of the chestnut-wood landscape and the related products; the revocation of the mountain gastronomic traditions; the professional training of naturalistic and landscape operatives, food & wine specialists, agronomists and commercial and technological operatives.
Educational courses are organised for elementary and secondary school students and university students, and also for amateurs and naturalists. The bibliographic material housed at the Centre is at their disposal. Since 2009 the Ente Cassa has devoted 30,000.00 euro a year to this project.