Renewing thousands of lives with Italian flavours and craftsmans­hip

The luxurious lusciousne­ss of Italian flavours and craftsmans­hip is not the only beautiful thing that comes out of the Rimini commune it’s the renewed lives of thousands as well

- Images courtesy of San Patrignano

It may not be true that diamonds come from coal (although both primarily carbon, their chemical structure is different), but it’s true that diamonds are created with immense pressure. It’s rare when a person who’s turned to substance abuse can harness the pressures that caused their downfall into something of value.

Kyra* is going home to Bel-Air in Los Angeles, California, after living for the past three-and-a-half years in a remote commune in the hills above Rimini in Italy’s (milia-Romagna region. Almost tingling with too much energy, she nonetheles­s speaks slowly, with a slight Italian accent, sometimes even fumbling for an (nglish word as she talks about how long she has been here. “I am a little bit afraid to go,” she says. “SanPa is so safe, I don’t need to be on guard here.”

SanPa or San Patrignano, in a nutshell, is a social enterprise. It has also been called the world’s finest drug rehabilita­tion programme, where residents are recovering addicts who are rebuilding their lives through craftsmans­hip. They are taught to cultivate vineyards, make cheese, weave cashmere and craft luxury leather products.

Kyra works in SanPa’s leather and fur workshop, cutting, sewing and finishing limited edition bags for collaborat­ions with luxury fashion brands Tod’s and Marni. “I was studying fashion in New York when

I got mixed up with drugs,” the girl who

would have been a young socialite says. “I cannot imagine any other rehab programme that would have allowed me to have the experience of working hands-on with such companies. It’s not only sobriety that I have gained here, but also the opportunit­y to pursue my passion.”

There are 30 trade sectors currently manned by employees and 1,300 residents spread out over SanPa’s 260 hectares (foreigners like Kyra make up less than 10 per cent of residents most are from all over Italy). Counting the lifestyle and leisure sectors, which cover performanc­e art and sports, there are more than 50 sectors.

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