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Back to listMay 17, 2008

History of SGI-Italy Culture Center Building and Grounds Published

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Le Brache Villa di Bellagio

On May 17, 2008, a lecture at the SGI-Italy Culture Center in Florence commemorated the book launch of Le Brache Villa di Bellagio ("Wonderful House of Happiness and Joy"), a compilation of the history of the site.

The center's history dates back to the first and second centuries of the Roman Empire when the building was used as a security tower along Via Cassia which connected Rome and Florence. As commerce flourished and the city grew, the tower was remodeled into a residence in the 11th century. In the 16th century, associates of the Medici family--who ruled Florence during much of the Renaissance--became the new owners of the manor. Following Italian unification in the 19th century, the owner of the house at that time renamed it "Villa di Bellagio."

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Roberto Longhi Foundation for the Study of Art History President Mina Gregori (center) speaks at the event

In 1986, SGI-Italy assumed possession and initiated restoration and maintenance of the structure and its surroundings, including preservation of its wall paintings. The building opened as SGI-Italy's first culture center in 1992 and has been designated as one of the country's important cultural assets. Since 1986, SGI-Italy has promoted in-depth research on the history of the premises headed by art historian Elisabetta Cappugi. Publication of Le Brache Villa di Bellagio summarizes this study of the center. The book is a trilingual publication in Italian, English and Japanese.

At the commemorative lecture, Florence Vice Mayor for Urban Planning Gianni Biagi expressed his appreciation for SGI-Italy's efforts to preserve and maintain the center. Roberto Longhi Foundation for the Study of Art History President Mina Gregori of the University of Florence also spoke and praised SGI-Italy's activities for cultural preservation.

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SGI-Italy Culture Center in Florence

[Adapted from an article in the June 14, 2008 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Japan]