THE TERRITORY’S REVENGE GEO-CULTURAL REFLECTIONS ON ABRUZZO’S DEVELOPMENT MODEL
Pagnini, Maria Paola
In the region which, approximately eight centuries ago, came to be known as Abruzzo, mountains decreed man’s fate. […] And the Abruzzesi people have remained bound to this community with its relatively unusual destiny, characterized by an unerring loyalty to their economic and social structure, stretching beyond the bounds of practicality itself. This would remain inexplicable were we not to consider the very factor constant in their existence, which is also the most primitive and stable of elements – nature itself’ (Silone, 1948, p. 7). It is with these words that Silone opens his work ‘Abruzzo e Molise’ – The Abruzzo and Molise regions - (Touring Club Italiano, 1980). Words, which despite the high regard afforded the great Marsican writer, we may be quick to disregard due to his, no doubt unintentional, but nevertheless deterministic tone. However, by substituting the term ‘territory’ for ‘nature’ (probably the concept Silone was referring to - although, evidently the term ‘territory’ as used by geographers was yet to become part of everyday speech and was possibly still to become widespread even among specialists) the writer feels we can begin to grasp an essential theme in the social and economic history of the region, which eight centuries ago (readers should note – this is not a recent occurrence), came to be known as Abruzzo (or the Abruzzi). On the other hand, in one of his later passages, the very same Silone introduces a human aspect into his analysis of the social, economic and identity-based evolution – in short, cultural evolution – of Abruzzo and its people. Nature and history have stood side by side in forging the region’s identity, and none other than mankind, as we well know, forges history. In fact, Silone maintains, “I am not claiming that Abruzzesi character is unalterable – having been born from history, it can also be unraveled and modified by history” (ibidem p. 12) or indeed the inhabitants themselves: the determinism of the initial assertions, now erring towards concession.
Proceedings of the Conference THE CULTURAL TURN IN GEOGRAPHY, 18-20th of September 2003 - Gorizia Campus
Part VI: Tourism, Sustainable Development and Culture Turn