Brunello Cucinelli

MILAN — Central Italy continues to feel the aftershocks of the “seismic contagion” hitting the region of Marche, with tremors extending to Umbria, Lazio, Tuscany and Abruzzo, following the devastating earthquake that killed almost 300 people at the end of August.

The jewel city of Norcia, in Umbria, near Perugia, was badly hit on Sunday and, in an effort to help out, Brunello Cucinelli has pledged to support the restoration of the Bénédictine monastery adjacent to the 13th-century basilica, which was badly damaged, with its Gothic facade all that is left standing. Cucinelli also will provide the monks with primary necessities.

There is a special link between Cucinelli and the monastery as the prior, Cassian Folsom, who arrived in Norcia from Central America in 2000, is the Italian entrepreneur’s spiritual father and has been on the board of the Brunello Cucinelli company for years. In fact, Cucinelli first helped restore the monastery upon the arrival of Cassian, after 180 years of neglect.

Cucinelli waited a few days before traveling to Norcia because, he said, he “did not want to be in the way of rescuers,” but immediately helped the Benedictines by finding a tractor to start clearing some of the stones. The Norcia monastery itself survived the quake and its after shocks because of its earthquake-resistant structure, and there were no victims among the 15 monks.

“I would like to support my beloved Umbria and Norcia, which is the ideal city of the future, in terms of quality, spirituality, low level of unemployment, its silence,” said Cucinelli on Wednesday.

He was on his way to Rome to be a guest that evening on two shows on national TV discussing the earthquake. He said it was too early to discuss details of his financial investment.

Cucinelli’s headquarters are located near the Solomeo medieval village, a little more than an hour’s drive from Norcia, but nothing was damaged by the earthquake. “We felt the earth move, but everything there has been either restored or built with antiseismic structures,” he said.

Saint Benedict was born in Norcia and Cucinelli said he grew up with that culture, “balancing intellect, soul and work,” and he regularly visits Cassian at dawn.

“I cannot tell you how many e-mails I received from America and I would like to thank everyone for their concern,” he said.

Cucinelli in the past also helped restore the famous Etruscan Arch of Perugia.

In October, Diego Della Valle, chairman and chief executive officer of Tod’s Group, said he would fund the construction of a manufacturing plant in Arquata del Tronto, in the area of the Marche region. The plant is expected to be up and running within a year and will produce footwear for the Tod’s brand.
 The region is a historic footwear manufacturing hub and Tod’s itself is based in Casette d’Ete, about 63 miles away from Arquata.

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