Underneath a large circular dome stands a full blown glass factory with its furnaces. Behind it, a unobstructed and still navigable channel (giving access to the larger Dudley and English network) which was used in past centuries by all glasshouses to transport goods.
On the one hand, one can only praise the attentiveness with which the British have always approached all aspects of history, including that of industry and manufacturing. It is indeed witness to a higher degree of civilisation, also showing up in their admirable handling of historical landscapes.
On the other hand, we, Italians are invaded by a sense of sorrow and regret in comparison; the sheer lack of interest of everything historical in our Country is beyond imagination.
One must realise that preservation cannot be limited to a handful of buildings and works of art ("vincolo" or grade I listed building), as is the case in Italy. No matter how important, those buildings no longer speak to our souls if they are extracted from their context. Our cities and our churches deprived of their landscape have long lost their ability of speaking to our hearts.
Preservation must include all aspects of landscape. That means preserving not only the external appearance of a few buildings in the the city centre and its immediate surroundings, but also to save for future generations the smells, sounds and physical appearance of the land itself.
Italians have deprived our and future generations of our most fundamental heritage, that is the continuity of rural landscapes, building materials and styles, all that gave to our regions their unique character to the delight of the citizens and visitors alike.
We have now built a homogeneously ugly Country in which every corner looks like every other one, because the old farmhouses have been neglected, the ancient field divisions not respected, the old unity of villages and cities raped by a never-ending, staggering sprawl that lines up along every national road, from Aosta to Sicily.
Only in very peripheral, depressed areas has the countryside subsisted almost unaltered. The reasons of that disaster are innumerable, but the result is now irreversible. Italy is only marginally beautiful, superseded by almost every other European Country, including those of the former Eastern block, as anyone can verify with little effort and a Ryanair ticket.
The general lack of interest shown by the general public is mirrored by the narrowing place that the national economy occupies in the industrial world. A country completely devoid of respect for those who have worked, invented, innovated, cannot possibly play any role in a world that gravitates around innovation and know-how.
To add insult to injury, the recent lamentable state of our national finances has further decreased the GDP fraction that Italy devotes to preserving its depleted heritage.
The case of Altare does not stand out in this gloomy Italian world. In spite of many, encouraging initiatives, the Museum struggles to fund its glassblowing activity.
The medieval Racchetti glasshouse (one of the favourite topics of this blog), has been neglected, nay thoroughly ignored by the local administration, to the point of letting this fundamental piece of history fall apart to the stupor of foreign amateurs and scholars alike.
The recent fall of the dome of the main furnace is a hallmark of shame for Altare and the entire regional administration, as always busy in trading votes in exchange for appalling building projects (read: the rape of Savona's old harbour), possible digging for minerals in a regional park and other crimes of sort.
Thankfully, this theatre survived the intense bombardments of WW2 (which resulted in the total levelling of Coventry and in the horrible revenge of the allies, who razed to the ground Dresden and other German jewels)
The Welsh countryside is perfectly preserved, even along the coastline, something that we, Italians cannot possible fathom, given our national culture. We'd probably say that "the marked did not push for construction". But no, laws were passed that preserve the ancient appearance of the English and Welsh countryside, to the joy of locals and visitors alike.
This one oversaw the Irish channel.