In Conversation with Luigi Zalum,

Owner with his Children of Villa Gamberaia

In collaboration with Estelle Arielle Bouchet

Born in Alexandria of Egypt, 96 years ago, Luigi Zalum brings to the administration of this historic villa the brilliant mind, creative spirit, and modern outlook of a Renaissance humanist and twentieth-century CEO.

A graduate of the Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieurs of Beirut, Luigi also holds advanced degrees from the Università di Bologna in Chemistry and Pharmacology, and began teaching at the School of Engineering in Beirut at the age of only 25! At home in both Europe and the Middle East, he is fluent in six languages from: English, French and Italian, to Arabic, German and Turkish.

In 1988, Luigi and his wife, Franca Marchi, inherited the beautiful Villa Gamberaia in Settignano, just outside Florence, which his father-in-law Marcello Marchi (from the family of Marchi Industriale ) had acquired after WWII, and in the last 30 years has continued the restoration and renovation of the property, opening up the gardens and villa for cultural and social events and turning the smaller houses on the property into holiday retreats.

Always engaged in leading-edge issues, Luigi remains committed to scientific and technological advances in all areas. The biggest challenge, he believes, is to decrease the carbon ratio in order to slow down global warming.

Thus, in the course of a very animated conversation touching on many topics he invokes the great innovation of ENI (the Italian energy company) in terms of sustainability and potential solution for the future: a patent to expose plants to a perpetual artificial light in order to boost bio-masses and oxygen production.

What is this about?

According to ENI sources, these processes would be a solution for Carbon neutrality in the long term

In order to achieve carbon neutrality, ENI has adopted an approach that takes the emissions generated over the entire life cycle of energy products into account. Among them, an important role will be played by the application of new technologies capturing CO2 and the development of forest.

Luigi Zalum former DG of the Italian chemical company Montedison and as a chemical engineer looks forward to the great progress now underway through the new sustainability paths initiated by ENI.

Representing the best of Tradition and Modernity, East and West, Luigi Zalum is a fascinating “homme du monde” with whom it is a true joy to converse in these enchanting Gardens of Villa Gamberaia !


Patricia Osmond, PhD

Curator, Historic Archives

Villa Gamberaia (Florence)

Author of the book “Revisiting Gamberaia” (2014)

ENI website