Italy – The Shabby monastery

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The “Gladiator School for Culture Warriors” promoted by Steve Bannon and his follower Benjamin Harnwell at the Italian Trisulti monastery is turning out to be a huge fraud against the Italian State. In 2017, the Italian Ministry of culture agreed to lease the monastery – in which monks have lived for nine centuries in quiet seclusion, praying, reading and concocting medicinal remedies with herbs from the surrounding forest – to the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (Dhi), a think-thank claiming the mission “to defend Judeo-Christian roots of western civilization”. Bannon and Harnwell’s project is transforming the ancient monastery into “an incubator for nationalist ultra-conservative leaders of the future” – the successors of Matteo Salvini (Italian Lega), Beatrix von Storch (German AfD), Sebastian Kurz (Austrian People’s Party) and Marion Maréchal (French Front Naçional). “We have this place for 20 years, enough time to change the world” said Harnwell, Dhi founder.

However, thanks to some investigative reports, a long series of irregularities have come to light. Harnwell had declared that Dhi had juridical personality to take part in the tender but, actually, obtained it six months after the tender had been closed. Dhi misrepresented the Institute as having experience in cultural heritage management – a tender prerequisite – by claiming it had administrated a local museum, but actually the museum resulted not to be open to the public and to have ever organized any exhibits. Moreover, the financial plan bank guarantee submitted by Dhi for the tender seems to be a fake, according to what has been declared by Peter Hinrichs Bering, manager of Jyske Bank, indicated as signatory of the guarantee.

Today, one year since Dhi was granted the right over the Trisulti monastery, the Abbey is in a state of abandon. The new concessionaire hasn’t even provided for ordinary maintenance: the roofs badly damaged by strong winter winds have been roughly patched with plastic sheets rather than tiles, the ancient Italian gardens are infested by weeds. No sign of the promised restoration work to safeguard the Certosa’s treasures.

The Trisulti monastery, better known as Certosa di Trisulti, surrounded by Mounts ErniciRally participants passing through the oak forest at the entrance of the Trisulti monasteryTrisulti monastery ancient pharmacy. On the back the portrait of Fra Benedetto Ricciardi, director of the pharmacy unitl 1863, when he diedFra Tommaso, a monk who studied herbal medicine at the Trisulti monasteryBenjamin Harnwell, Dignitatis Humanae Institute founder, inside the courtyard of the Trisulti monasteryThe jennies Teresina and Carmela joining the rally to protest against DhiInside the Trisulti monasteryRally participants passing through the oak forest at the entrance of the Trisulti monasteryBenjamin Harnwell confronting rally organizersCertosa di TrisultiRally participants signing the petition to free the monastery from DhiSan Bartolomeo Church inside the Trisulti monasterySan Bartolomeo chapel, inside the Trisulti monasteryFilippo Balbi ancient painting studio inside the Trisulti monasterySince Dhi got the assignment of Trisulti monastery visitors access has been strongly restricted and an entrance fee of 5 euro has been introducedBenjamin Harnwell confronting rally organizersRally participantsSan Nicola monastery, where Dhi would have managed a museum according with Dhi tender applicationBenjamin Harnwell inside the Trisulti monastery

Quella promossa da Steve Bannon e Benjamin Harnwell all’interno della Certosa di Trisulti doveva essere “la scuola per i nuovi gladiatori culturali” dell’estrema destra nazionalista e ultra-conservatrice. Si sta rivelando invece una grossa truffa ai danni dello Stato italiano. Nel 2017 il Ministero dei beni culturali ha concesso infatti l’antico monastero alla Dignitatis Humanae Institute (Dhi), il think-tank fondato da Harnwell per “la difesa delle fondamenta giudaico-cristiane della civiltà occidentale”. Peccato però che al momento del bando Dhi fosse privo di personalità giuridica e non avesse alcuna esperienza nella gestione del patrimonio culturale, requisiti essenziali alla partecipazione. Anche la garanzia bancaria a sostegno del piano finanziario presentato da Dhi per la ristrutturazione della Certosa sarebbe falsa. Oggi, a oltre un anno dalla concessione, l’antica abbazia, che per oltre 9 secoli ha ospitato il lavoro e le preghiere di monaci eremiti, versa in uno stato di completo abbandono. Il nuovo concessionario non ha provveduto neppure all’ordinaria manutenzione: i tetti danneggiati dai venti invernali sono stati rappezzati con tavole di plastica al posto delle tegole, gli antichi giardini all’italiana lasciati in balia delle erbacce. Nessun segno invece degli interventi promessi per mettere in sicurezza gli straordinari tesori della Certosa.

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