In Italy 6,000 villages of extraordinary beauty completely abandoned

Rome, 27th April 2018 – Villages and historical centres: the soul of our territory, an immense cultural richness and more. Yet today, both are under threat. From neglect, from inadequate policies, from lack of vigilance and planning on the part of the institutions, from abandonment. The complaint starts from Italia Nostra, the organization historically responsible, with its sections spread throughout the peninsula, for the surveillance of the territory. An appeal to the institutions, which, however, Italia Nostra also takes responsibility for itself, putting in place good practices, such as the avant-garde project just started for the recovery of the beautiful village of Monte Sant’Angelo, one of the three UNESCO sites of Puglia.


Recent data from a survey by the Centro Studi Turistici of Florence and Confesercenti indicate a real tourism boom in 2017 for cities of art and, above all, for small villages, which have recorded a record year with 95 million visitors and a very significant share of foreigners. The total tourist expenditure, for small villages, is estimated at about 8.2 billion euros, more than half of which, 54.8%, is due to foreign tourists. And it was visitors from outside Italy who made the greatest contribution to growth: the number of foreign tourists in the villages rose by 30.3% between 2010 and 2017, against a drop of 5.4% for Italian tourists. These are exciting numbers, against which, however, there is a great scourge: that of abandoned villages, where there is no longer any inhabitant, often extraordinary jewels of history that, however, remain completely – and unjustifiably – outside the flow of tourism. According to ISTAT data, there are 6,000 of them (also including stables and mountain pastures). An invaluable heritage that, in light of recent data on the success of tourism in inhabited villages, you can see what extraordinary contribution could make to our social fabric, to the territory, to the entire country if it were involved in tourism. In addition, of course, the importance of recovering a cultural component that is a crime to disperse.

How? Imperative “regenerate”. This is the appeal that Italia Nostra is making to the institutions and all the actors involved. Regeneration, protection, safety, infrastructure, development. These are the key terms to safeguard and enhance the territory, the historic centers, our large and small villages. Themes also emerged during a recent press conference held on April 10 at the italian Chamber of Deputies under the patronage of Italia Nostra Onlus, an initiative of the School “Engineering & Architecture” social enterprise.

Sant’Angelo Mount

“Already in 2015, in the very room of the Press Conferences of the Chamber of Deputies, Italia Nostra had undertaken the commitment of activating an experimentation in the UNESCO site of Monte Sant’Angelo in Puglia”, declares Maria Gioia Sforza, National Councillor, as well as President of the Gargano and Terre dell’Angelo Section, of Italia Nostra, “The objective of the project is the recovery of the Historical Centre, the medieval walls, the terraces, and the expansion of the buffer zone, started some time ago in collaboration with the Municipality of Monte Sant’Angelo, the Technical University Wien, the Federico II University of Naples, the Engineering and Architecture School of Bari. And the project has finally started these days: 60 Austrian architects have visited and studied Monte Sant’Angelo to activate a process of urban regeneration in this center of 12,000 inhabitants that has a sharp decrease in population.

This project is testimony of the choice of Italia Nostra to actively intervene with good practices for the promotion of the territory. But not only that. Its historic supervisory role remains crucial. Dr. Sforza reiterates the need to monitor the national territory through the 200 sections of Italia Nostra. “The latter activity”, underlines Dr. Sforza, “is of crucial importance also in the light of the considerable CIPE funds, amounting to several billion Euros, allocated on 28 February 2018 by Minister Franceschini to the historic centres of Naples, Cosenza, Taranto, Palermo and others (such as Pompeii, Ostia Antica, Cinqueterre, Urbino). A diffusion of funds that we can define as a rainstorm and that risks dispersing if not included in concrete and priority projects”.

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