You can do it!

I am amazed.
I know little of history, but I have an immense respect for it. Many others have got a vastly different view.

As I have been traveling through Western Europe, I see so many ancient cities. These cities are kept alive by the current inhabitants, some with links to a past that is quite unbelievable for me. Families that have lived in the same tiny walled enclave for 600 or 800 years and some perhaps even longer.

Now I know that I get to see these places with the advent of the automobile, and I can make reservations at hotels due to the joys of the computer age, but I am truly willing to forgo much of the 21st Century’s niceties for a real glimpse into the past.

Fire hydrants, Satellite receivers, lengths and loops of electrical cable, advertising hoardings, TV Antennas, Cell Phone Antennas and the ubiquitous MacDonalds (and others) signs are draped all over the walls.

The real mastery in photography these days maybe Photoshop, but the fact is that there is often little to capture to start with. We find the mastery in taking photographs and missing the Electricity Company’s power box, hiding the wires, disappearing the antennae of suburbia.

I recognize that these buildings have been handed down over generations and each subsequent owner has been responsible for maintaining and making the building useful to their current needs, but if the real purpose is to make for 21st century utilitarianism, then why not tear the building down and start again?

I love the tiny rutted roads that are the direct descendants of the Roman chariot tracks, the buildings arched and huddled together to create virtually impenetrable walls – but is there nowhere where these things are left intact and unspoiled?

Signs that say that the water was tested in 1978 by the local water board are forever attached to a town fountain, a sign that says the electricity meter is not to be tampered with, or a bunch of phone cables that terminate nowhere, but with enough signage and loopage to look more like something out of ‘ 1984 ‘ or ‘ Brazil ‘ than a Roman Amphitheatre, are positively disgraceful. There are ways to satisfy local regulations without having to brand and emblazon everything in sight.

I worked in France and Italy from the 1970s to the 1990s and the layers of pointless defacement of proud architecture have grown, not diminished.

It’s time to put our hand up and beg the European authorities to take better care of what must be a truly amazing world heritage.
Prizes for individuals that can be proud to show off the original facades without defacement, laws for those that have no pride, regulations that are flexible enough to allow building owners to have the required stamps of approval, behind closed doors, satellite dishes that are not visible, cabling that is welcome if concealed.

Come on Europe – you can do it…. it will be worth your while.

In the long run.

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