People have all sorts of different motivations for choosing their travel (or live and work) destinations. Adventure sports, art, food, culture… the where and how of traveling are entirely dependent on the travler. Italy’s reputation for innovation and quality have earned it a place as a top travel destination. Italy also has a lesser known draw; a cathedral made of trees.

Sustainability Brought to Life

Bergamo, a picturesque town situated in northern Italy, is home to the Cattedrale Vegetale (literally the plant cathedral). A marriage of sustainability and architecture, the Cattedrale Vegetale is artist and architect Giuliano Mauri’s (1938-2009) second work of its kind. Sadly, it was also his last. The cathedral, which was created for the UN’s international year of biodiversity, is a stunning addition to Mauri’s legacy.

Five aisles composed of 42 columns create the main form of the cathedral. Each column has a beech tree planted at the center. The beech trees will mature over the course of decades to replace temporary pillars. The trees will grow together to form walls and a vaulted ceiling, similar to the ceilings found in Gothic cathedrals around the world.

Branches Guide the Young Trees

Mauri put temporary, natural pillars in to act as placeholders while the beech trees grow. These placeholders contain an incredible 1,800 fir tree poles. Chestnut and hazel branches were woven around the fir poles to complete the temporary pillars. Branches curve toward each other to give the impression of the vaulted ceiling that will grow into being.

It’s incredible to think about this cathedral made of trees changing over the course of decades. The Cattedrale Vegetale is stunning year round. Snow covers it majestically in winter, while in spring it blends into the fresh green landscape, . The ability to travel at one’s convenience to fascinating architecture such as this cathedral made of trees, or to live short term in an incredible country like Italy, is part of the driving motivation behind many digital nomads lifestyle choice.

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