Extra-urban and rural areas

The working group focuses on the transformations taking place in the extra-urban and rural areas of Italy
Extra-urban areas, characterized by low population density, are traditionally areas deprived in terms of accessibility, resources, opportunities. For decades, they have been suffering for decades by loss of population and the gradual aging of residents, with the consequent reduction of the threshold to ensure the necessary services, in a sort of circular and cumulative process. The "rural exodus" has been accompanied, in many cases, also by an agricultural exodus, i.e. the abandonment of traditional activities linked to farming. So, agriculture, when poor, was almost totally abandoned, leaving room for wastelands; if "rich" it has instead become of capitalist development, but also of non-regular work, exploitation of temporary and irregular migrants. 
Due to the architectural features of the houses (even if often left empty by the owners or their heirs) and the low level of urbanization, "internal areas" and rural spaces are often associated with high environmental quality. For example, the policy of "inner areas", launched by the Italian Territorial Cohesion Agency, for the period 2014-2020 defines them as "areas significantly distant from centres offering essential services (education, health, and mobility)", but then adds that they are "rich in important environmental and cultural resources and highly diversified by nature and following centuries-old processes of anthropization". For this reason, one of the answers advanced, at a strategic level, for their territorial revalorisation envisages incentives aimed at the demographic recovery through new residents (the so-called "neo-rural" ones);  at the same time, it foresees the relaunch of tourism, through the enhancement of the so-called "villages", i.e. traditional settlements, often elevated and for this reason not affected by heavy settlement transformation during the years of industrialization, which are therefore characterized by the persistence of a certain landscape value (see 2017, "Year of Villages", according to MIBACT), routes (2016, "Year of Walks"); 2019, "Year of Slow Tourism"). In this direction, we can also quote architect Stefano Boeri's comment on the opportunity offered by the "constellation of villages" for "rethinking the life cycles of Italians", after the health emergency of Covid-19, thanks to the spread of broadband and the growing habit of teleworking.
However, not all inner areas and not all rural areas have the same "landscape" potential and not all settlements are "villages". In some cases, the landscape is scarred by a past of industrialisation that today leaves only impressive "voids", asbestos-covered sheds and old abandoned factories (as in the blatant case of Bemberg di Gozzano, in the province of Novara); in others, there is the widespread presence of buildings of poor quality, characterised by building styles that are not very consistent with the original settlement (the condominium in the centre of the rural centre, the small villas, the renovation that is not very suitable with roller shutters instead of shutters, or aluminium shutters, etc.). ); in others, the low density of the building and the richness of "green" hide the potential harmfulness linked to the intensive use of highly polluting pesticides.

The working group wants to focus on the transformations taking place in these areas, whose only real unifying point seems to be the "weak" demand for services and the consequent lack of opportunities for citizens, first through the targeted analysis of the data made available by the longitudinal Ita.li, and then through qualitative research, within two case studies


Project manager: Elena dell'Agnese.

Research Team: Lorenzo Bagnoli, Nunzia Borrelli, Alessandro Carucci, Giulia De Cunto, Matilde Ferretto, Marco Grasso.