Fornello Sustainable Preservation Workshop

12 days in Altamura, Italy - July 19 - 30, 2017

For the first time The School of Restoration Arts at Willowbank is partnering with Messors Ventures Inc. for an authentic cultural experience in southern Italy. The shared goals of both organisations in integrating theory and practice in sustainable preservation work are realised in the cultural landscape of Altamura. Messors organisation work with the local community to offer select workshops that deal with art restoration, heritage conservation and culinary history in southern Italy and are now extending their reach into other areas within Europe.



Willowbank and Messors share an understanding and acknowledgement of the interconnectedness between people and place, and that the creative continuity of cultural tradition is what sustains heritage. Messors’ Fornello Sustainable Preservation Project encompasses these goals and Willowbank are proud to support its evolution.

“The ancient cave site of Fornello (3rd C. B.C.) is located east of the town of Altamura, in Puglia, Italy. The future goal for the site of Fornello is to create a sustainable conservation model through the complete restoration of the historic landscape, highlighting the importance of the site by converging interests, energies and actions toward the preservation of the original site settlement as well as promoting sustainable living practices. The goal is to restore the site to the point in which it can function as it’s original settlement: as cave dwellings, a place of congregation, wine storage, milk collection, cheese making and cheese cave aging. Once restored, local shepards will be offered the site to use as their own milk collective and caves to age their cheeses.”



Project Mission:

Throughout the 12 day workshop you will be a part of the restoration and continuation of a historically significant site and supporting the agro-pastoral community in southern Italy. You will learn the art of dry-stone-wall techniques, be introduced to practices of fresco restoration and the history of Byzantine Frescoes. Time at Fornello will be scheduled in half days (4 hours). During your time there you will be given instruction on archeological methods, techniques and documentation while operating in a historic site. The rest of the days will be spent engaging in the culturally rich areas of southern Italy by partaking in lectures, learning about traditions of the area and visiting historical towns and sites of the region

Activities Include:

  • Make typical cheeses of Puglia and make Pecorino Mozzarella, Burrata, Scamorza, Ricotta
  • Walk to pasture with the shepherd and his flock and make a traditional shepherds lunch in the field to share together
  • Visit the Unesco World Heritage Site of Sassi di Matera for a walking tour and art exhibition of writer and artist Carlo Levi who wrote the book Christ Stopped at Eboli
  • Visit the town of Altamura, famous for its bread, for a architectural tour of the historic centre and hands on bread/focaccia making
  • Visit to restored Masseria's (traditional working farm houses) in the Puglian region
  • Tasting local wines in Valle d'Itria and spending an afternoon at the beach of a coastal town
  • Visit to the archeological sites of Botromagno and Metapontum
  • Italian language classes





Workshop Fee: €1,540 includes accommodations, transportation to and from Bari airport or train station, meals, wine and excursions.

Does not include: airfare, personal health and travel insurance or personal expenses

You can register for The Fornello Sustainable Preservation Project by e-mailing Check out Messors website for the other workshops they offer in southern Italy and in France.

For any inquiries or for further information email

All booking and payment is through our Italian partners

You can also check out Willowbank's student blog, which contains a post from a Willowbank student's experience at the Fornello Workshop last year.


Your accommodations during the workshop will be Masseria La Selva - once an 18th-century hunting lodge originally built for the Roman Orsini family in the southern Italian countryside.