Arch. Pietro Gremese

Pietro Gremese was born in Udine on 26/07/1943. Even before graduating in architecture in Venice, he met and married, in 1965, Luisa Bellina, who would accompany him throughout his life.

His first contact with Sauris dates back to 1963 and, as a tourist, he immediately fell in love with it. He falls in love with that small ancient world that has lasted for centuries, where life still flows slowly, where friendship, faithful relationships and hospitality have a great value; wooden houses, barns and stables full of cattle, smell of hay harvested from above, of freshly drawn milk and of resins that still drip from centuries-old trunks. A world, however, in evolution, which is changing in step with the advance of industrialization, which wants to look to the future but is at risk of extinction.

The mountain is in decline. The ancient houses, born for large families, are divided into small properties no longer functional, without heating systems, often without toilets. There are no sewers, dilapidated aqueducts, schools at risk of closure, agriculture in great distress, lack of services, young people, entire families are going, down in the plains ….

This is how Piero (as he calls himself by the 400 inhabitants he now knows all) decides to get involved by participating in the life of the Sauran community. First (1975) he accepted the position of Administrator of the Pro Loco Sauris, then (1978) of the Cooperativa Servizi, then, in 1980, with the change of Municipal Administration, he accepted the position of Technical Consultant, a position he held until 1994. Together with the Administration he builds an innovative development plan, elaborated and discussed with all the inhabitants. The housing, urban and economic problems are addressed together: this is how the “Sauris Project” was born, a system made up of 10 integrated projects aimed at changing the fate of the Sauran community and of which the architect Gremese becomes a consultant.

It is therefore urgent to search for the financial means necessary to implement what may seem like a “dream”.  An important part comes from the funds of the ’76 earthquake (L.R. 17 and L.R.30), supplemented by a specific regional law, the L.R.2/1983 (then called “Special Law”), but it is equally important to equip the project with the urban planning tools necessary to intervene on the urban fabric. The architect then assumes the task of designer and technical manager of the Detailed Plans of the Special Law. This makes it possible to rehabilitate abandoned and dilapidated buildings, often timeshares, into facilities that serve the community, and to renovate all residential homes.

Gremese also assumes the position of designer and director of multiple public works: sewers, aqueducts, public lighting, telephone network, roads, parking lots. He is the creator and realizer, with many difficulties, of the distribution network of LPG (Liquid Propane Gas) throughout the municipality, the first example of its kind in Italy.

Equally innovative at national level are the idea and the realization of the “Albergo Diffuso”: a new way of conceiving the idea of a hotel, which forsees that an entire town becomes a hotel, keeping its inhabitants inside, developing a tourism aimed primarily at the recovery and well-being of the local community. In the historic center of the town of Sauris di Sopra, from the recovery of several barns was born the “Borgo di San Lorenzo”, initially classified as “Houses and apartments for holidays” (the type of accommodation of “Albergo Diffuso” did not yet exist in the regional legislation) and which will become the central nucleus (equipped with reception) of the future “Albergo Diffuso Sauris”.

In the meantime Piero felt the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed in 1987: a progressive disease that made his profession as an architect increasingly difficult and so, when in ’94 the call for the management of Borgo S. Lorenzo came out, he decided to participate in it, winning it. It’s about creating a new life, embarking on a new adventure; together with his wife Luisa and his brother-in-law Bepi begins a new path, made of very direct relationships with many people both locals and tourists. A commitment that lasted 10 years, until 2004, in the management of a tourist structure that he wanted and created, giving exemplary proof of management reaching in 2004 a full tourist occupancy of 140 days, when in Carnia there was an average of 70 occupied days.

The worsening of the disease forces Piero and his wife Luisa to leave the business and abandon Sauris, moving back to Udine but not forever, because in the meantime he continues to cultivate the dream of seeing the realization of his “Sauris Project” completed, perhaps revisiting it and adapting it to the changed conditions compared to when it was conceived.

The strong bond and the ascertainment of a new and dangerous social crisis that Sauris is crossing, urge him to the assumption of new engagements for “his community” and make him decide for his candidacy to Mayor, motivated only from the desire to be still useful to Sauris.

Unfortunately, time is time-counted; after a year of intense work of recovery of what can become for Sauris a new opportunity for growth, he is forced to abandon his community definitively due to  the further aggravation of that disease that has been with him for too many years now.

Piero’s journey lasted a long time, in the company of his wife, friends, his “villagers” and multiple sclerosis. A long adventure to build a dream and to leave us the opportunity to dream again.

Goodbye Piero and Thanks.

(by Augusto Petris, former deputy mayor in the Gremese Administration -2014/2016)