Tonio and Messors team inspire an exploration of one’s understanding of heritage conservation on a global scale, by exposing participants to local perspectives of the Puglia region. Through engagement with community, art, and history the contiguity of the themes of cave dwelling, shepherding and breaking bread with an other become clear.
Though these practices may not be dependant on the conservation and restoration of heritage resources, it is through conservation and restoration that their integral significance is understood and preserved in cultural memory.
The workshop has left me with a desire to build on this conservation experience, and with an eternal craving for olive oil and Puglian food.
This workshop has exceeded all my expectations. I feel fortunate to have met a wonderful group of people coming from all over the world, ate amazing food, explored wondrous places and gained so much knowledge into the world of art conservation and restoration. I came into this workshop wanting to discover my career path and thought this experience, I have witnessed what it is like to be passionate about one’s work. Tonio and the Messors team embodies that passion. They have dedicated themselves to the preservation of cultural heritage and have inspired so many and continues to inspire others through the workshops. I’m truly grateful and feel so fortunate to be part of this experience! The Messors team has inspired me to continue to search and discover my path in this life and I am forever grateful. Thank you for this experience and I hope to see everyone again.
My time with Messors was amazing. Seeing Italy through the lens of this program was an excellent introduction to this rich and beautiful country. I am truly grateful to have been a part of it. My outlook on life and my approach to my own art practice have benefited immeasurably from the experiences and lessons that Messors brought to the table each day of the program. I didn't go home the same person. I feel like a better person, a better artist. I loved the variety of challenges I undertook. Real passion and expertise lay within the structure and motives of the program and its teachers.
My time with Messors and our stay at Masseria La Selva was an amazing experience and something that I will always remember. I felt that we truly became a part of life in the Puglian countryside for three weeks. We stayed in a beautiful old building that transported us back to 17th-century Italy, an incredible setting for artistic inspiration, where the family atmosphere was very warm and welcoming. The art restoration program was geared towards individual hands-on learning and provided a completely unique and rewarding experience. Factor in the absolutely incredible food and I would recommend Messors' programs to anyone.
I had three amazing weeks with Messors in beautiful Altamura, Southern Italy. It was such an inspiring workshop, learning about the Italian culture and heritage through restoration, practical lessons, and exciting field trips. To be surrounded by the warm and welcoming environment at Masseria Le Selva and all the beautiful food they made for us got me even closer to the Italian culture. As a conservation student, the workshop and everything I learned there, it is an experience that I will take with me in my future work and for the rest of my life.
The restoration and conservation workshop with Messors was an absolutely unforgettable learning experience. I learned so much about restoration and conservation theory and methods working first-hand with real materials and works, all the while gathering a profound understanding of Italian cultural and geological history. I made great international friends and ate the best farm-fresh, home-cooked food I think I ever have in my life. One of the things I liked best about the program is that we were trusted to work with the actual pieces. I really felt like I was contributing to something meaningful and important in preserving Italy’s rich cultural past. Southern Italy is breathtakingly beautiful and it was amazing to work on centuries-old artworks in their natural cultural and historical environment. The social atmosphere of the workshop was also a highlight. I immediately felt welcomed by everyone involved with the program. It really felt like I was part of a big, warm, Italian family. I highly recommend the workshop to anyone interested!
I appreciated all the time and effort and expertise of the core staff and the extended staff. I especially appreciated the excellent illustrated lectures by the local authorities. These gave me a deep appreciation of the local culture. I learned a lot, not just about frescoes, but also about the entire region. I loved everything, including the work in the kitchen. The food was perfect. From this whole experience I gained many different skills. My time there increased my confidence in handling things I didn’t think I could do. A very authentic experience.
I often think upon my time in Puglia as one of the most rewarding and fulfilling adventures I have been lucky enough to experience. As an art student, I was especially interested in the restoration projects. But, honestly, the most memorable aspect of the trip was getting to know the other participants and feeling that we had come together to contribute in meaningful work. I have traveled extensively in Italy and have lived in Tuscany for several years, but if you have a desire to experience authentic Italy, look no further: a Messors' workshop is the real deal! A truly magical alternative to the stereotypical tourist vacation!
I came all the way from Rio to Altamura to pursue my interest in conservation as I was enchanted by the descriptions and pictures on the Messors' website. It exceeded all my expectation: great people, great places, great food, great memories. I learned the practice of conservation and helped restore local treasures to bring them back to life. What more could I ask for? One of the best summers and I'll take it forever with me.
Masseria La Selva is one of the most amazing places I have stayed. Living life for 18 days in beautiful atmospheric countryside made me feel really free, relaxed, included and peaceful. Enigmatic evenings at Masseria were filled with delicious fresh food, homemade wine, guitar music and singing. Each day was different, always a new adventure. When I think back to this place I am always smiling, I loved it! The restoration work was a really intense and rich experience. I found the work very meditative. I think it is priceless for me that we were allowed to work with the real works of art, making mistakes and learning from them. I loved the day trips and the shepherding and milking! I mean, everything was such a bright and strong impression for me! My highlight was rescuing the canvases from the church in Monte St. Angelo; the whole operation was so surreal. Watching Tonio and Teresanna passionately attending to the paintings inspired me and charged me with the same passion and concentration!
I had an absolutely wonderful experience, a truly unique adventure, one that I will forever cherish. After the restoration workshop ended, I continued my travels for a month to many of the Italian "hot spots" including Rome, Florence, Siena and the Amalfi Coast. While I enjoyed all of my travels in Italy, my time living at Masseria La Selva was the most unique, special, and enjoyable. It was wonderful to be in the country and away from tourists and to live for a few weeks amongst real Italians. While there are other art programs offered throughout Italy (including some through my university), I am very happy that I chose to participate with Messors. What I think it so special with your program is that we're not only there to learn about art but to take part in a unique cultural experience. Living on a true Italian farm and in a building with so much history was fantastic; our surroundings were so beautiful and the homemade food and hospitality were beyond what I expected. And the opportunity to do hands on work is, of course, amazing! I have to say that working on the canvases ended up being my favourite project, although the two frescoes were also really interesting and a great experience. I personally valued making our own frescoes; it really helped me to understand how much work and skill goes into making them. It has allowed me to better appreciate frescoes that I later saw during my travels. I have praised the program and experience to some of my art history professors and have encouraged them to suggest it to their students. The whole experience exceeded my expectations.
I joined a determined and collaborative team to uncover and preserve a 16th-century ceiling fresco for the art restoration program in 2011. It was gratifying to see this immense piece of antiquity unfold before our eyes, and thus emerge back to life. In order to do so, the people of Messors prepped and guided us through the southern regions of Italy to study local geology, chemistry, and the occurrence of degradation with antiquated frescoes. This helped us to better understand organic materials and traditional methods used in order to perform a restoration. It was a learning process that turned into an adventure, enabling a deep connection to the history and culture of Italian life. There was incredible farm-fresh food cooked daily with supreme hospitality; and it quickly felt like a family of friends, sharing the musings of our days. By the end, I was thrilled to design and paint my own fresco and have a newly found appreciation for its methodology. This opportunity has far surpassed any expectations I may have had, and I would be more than grateful to experience it all over again! Thank you all so very much for the memories and knowledge I will carry for a lifetime!
I arrived in 1998 to participate on one of Sinergie's restoration projects, and later returned to work with the members of Sinergie for five years to teach courses in fresco restoration and archeology for students of James Madison University of Virginia. The students worked to clean and stabilize frescoes, gaining an understanding of the urgency of preserving such cultural resources before they deteriorated further. Participants learn about the history of these artworks and their creation as well as their cultural context context through hands on practice, lectures, and field trips to historical sites. They experience the satisfaction of being part of the process of helping to preserve some of Puglia's fascinating past. Personally, I became so addicted to the experience that I returned summer after summer to participate in the restoration projects. I gain great personal satisfaction seeing the results of our work over the years. I have come to love the uniqueness of Puglia – the dry landscapes, the underground churches and habitation sites, the wonderful fresh food, and the local wine and olive oil and bread. But, above all, the people I met and worked with over the years. Even working in the kitchen brought me the wonderful opportunity of being able to pick up some of the local language, and I've continued with my Italian lessons and now converse and write in Italian! It is my hope and plan to return this summer in 2012.
I loved everything! There was a wide variety of classes, and the masseria was amazing. I got to feel and the see the traditional way of life here. I left understanding how clay and lime works, complementing my studies in architectural restoration towards attaining my degree in architecture.
Having had the good fortune of studying art overseas many times, I can confidently say that the Messors program was the best hands-on training I've ever experienced! Tonio's instruction was truly enlightening. I feel like I have a working knowledge of ancient techniques that now makes all architecture more exciting.
I joined Sinergie's Ten Days in Puglia tour last summer in 2011. That was a fantastic experience! Beautiful scenery, generous people, and totally awesome food! I was introduced to the tranquil country life of Southern Puglia and Basilicata, Italy. I could escape from my busy, crazy reality, and refreshed my mind during the stay. I still longingly recall the pleasant odors in the morning, smiling blue sky, and rays of the afternoon sun in Altamura.
The first time I came in contact with the members of Sinergie - now Messors - was in 2002. I joined their Eutropia restoration volunteer program and worked on Masseria Jesce for two weeks. It was to be a life-changing experience. I had fun and felt so comfortable in the international environment. In the years after, I came back more and more. Since I studied archaeology, I was able to do my internship with Sinergie. In one summer, I participated in both the fresco restoration workshop and the archaeological field school workshop, and I never learned so much in such a short time. It was amazing. The atmosphere is amazing: a place where everybody can do something, everybody can learn, and everybody can add culture and experience. Everybody is welcome. No stress and the most delicious food freshly prepared for you every day. What more could you want? There are excursions, lessons, and sneak peeks into the real Italian life. The workshops are something you do, they’re something you have to experience as part of life. You won’t regret it. Hope to see you there!
The art restoration workshop not only focused on artworks and how to restore them, but was also an immersion into southern Italian culture and history. Through trips to see the sites and sounds of the Puglia region to the field work we did in caves, the experience was truly astounding. The multiple guest lectures provided a range of information into fresco style and development along with geographical layout of the land, showing why the cave churches were produced. The course plan was highly adaptable and if something was of interest then it would be discussed, explained and/or experienced. The food was home-cooked everyday, with incredible fresh, local ingredients and the cheese (which was included in every meal) was made on-site in the Masseria dairy! The program ran concordantly with an Italian children’s English program, and everyone was encouraged to help out with the English lessons, along with the Italian children sometimes coming on site to see the frescoes that we were working on. It was a truly remarkable experience that whilst adding to my art historical knowledge also helped me grow personally.
Excursions were organized for the participants to explore archaeological sites of Altamura, Matera, Gravina, Pompei, and many other locations. Visiting the prehistoric caves was the most unique experience for me. Led by Tonio and other experts in his field, we walked to find hidden caves, experience the habitation, and were able to imagine the way the prehistoric people lived. While standing inside the cave and breathing the humid air, listening to the expert's introductions, it felt like an adventure in a movie literally coming true. Visits to other underground cave churches also gave me a sense of the Italians’ relationship with their environment and religion. Through these trips, I’ve gained so much respect in regards to the approach towards nature and culture from our Italian friends. They preserve their past very well. They are always so enthusiastic about sharing their art, architecture, culture, food and everything, but at the same time, being interested in ours. Traveling and living with the locals in Italy is an incredible memory because I have learned to appreciate all kinds of art and history of the Pulgia region in the Italian way from our friends who are passionate about their cultural treasures.
I thoroughly enjoyed the fresco restoration program held in Altamura. The Sinergie 2011 fresco restoration workshop offered an authentic pan-cultural experience that introduced me to the wonderful culture, food, language, geology and people of Italy. The historic Masseria La Selva was a beautiful and comfortable place to stay, surrounded by wide wheat fields. This program let me soak in the heart of the land, exploring its architecture and history, savouring its delicious food, and sipping its rich wines. Thank you, Tonio and Sinergie members, for giving me a spectacular time I’ll never forget!
I spent two weeks working and living with the passionate crew of Sinergie and left with wonderful memories. The beautiful setting of Puglia is matched only by the knowledge and kindness of those I came to know. Three years later, I returned when I happened to be in the area, and felt as if I had never left. As a teacher, I came to Sinergie's projects to immerse myself in the history of southern Italy. I left inspired and appreciative for all the work Sinergie coordinates and grateful for the life-long relationships formed.
The workshops offer a unique opportunity to experience the many facets of Puglia in a very personal way. Each day offers a different aspect of the significant history: frescoes in caves, historic churches, amazing cities and villages, vast farmlands, crusty breads, fresh produce, the enticing aroma of brewing espresso and even a broad field with dinosaur tracks. I return year after year to enjoy the variety of the land and its people.
One of the best things I have ever done! 100% cultural involvement.