I don't normally do tv cookery programmes, but somehow found myself watching a new series called 'Two Greedy Italians' on BBC1 last Wednesday. It's the latest offering of that genre where to be frank the cooking is very secondary to the characters, the stories and the fabulous landscape. After some 45 minutes, I found myself being gently seduced by the scenery, the banter between the two main characters, the classy classic car and then suddenly when least expecting it - bham - a smack in the face and work! The viewer suddenly becomes aware that our two characters are not visiting just any old vineyard and winery, but rather we have entered the utterly surreal world of drug rehabilitation, Italian style.
The San Patrignano project near Rimini is truely amazing in terms of scale, aspiration and concept. A massive 1,000 bed therapeutic residential community, funded entirely by charitable giving and the sale of some of the most mouth watering food and wine you could ever hope to sample. Throughout my entire career I have bemoaned the lack of residential drug rehabilitation beds and instead our reliance on community-based methodone prescribing. This one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn't work and is so narrow and unsophisticated in concept.
Well here in stark contrast we have an absolutely fabulous example of how the whole person can be treated in a truly holistic manner and helped to achieve their full potential as human beings irrespective of their backgrounds and in a drug free environment. Not a hint of methadone anywhere, the residents are asked to sign up to a determination to work towards a life without drugs. Quite clearly many residents have significant criminal backgrounds in addition to addictions and emotional problems, but seemingly benefit from quite lengthy stays measured in years rather than months. And who couldn't benefit from a lengthy stay in such beautiful surroundings living on fine food and wine?
Until I saw this, I had been pretty impressed with the Clink Restaurant experiment at HMP High Down, but this Italian project is something else and I would urge anyone vaguely interested in the mostly depressing subject of drug addiction to have a look at episode one which I gather will remain on i-player until the end of May. As you watch, just absorb the fantastic attention to the design detailing of the whole facility and ask yourself if it looks like a drug rehab to you? Having recently been on holiday to Italy, I have to say that their flair and skill in design is something to behold and should put us all to shame back here. This programme shows that good Italian design encompasses more than just the fabric though. A real lift to the spirit!