Conservation and Sustainable Development of Civita di Bagnoregio and the Tuff Towns of Central Italy
The World Monuments Fund (WMF) and The Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy (NIAUSI) have joined forces in organizing an international symposium focusing on two crucial (and related) aspects of the preservation of Civita di Bagnoregio and the tufa-based "tuff towns" of Pitigliano, Sorano, Manciano, Castiglione, Civitella, and Lubriano: the geological and cultural sustainability of these remarkable historic sites. These towns all share common challenges.
The goals are to generate a Civita-based case-study including a clear and prioritized scope and budget for stabilization work, focus attention on the socioeconomic and tourist pressures, and strategize ways to convey them to local and international conservation agencies and private benefactors.
Another goal is to develop a model based on sustainable development and existing local initiatives and legislation, and create a network of allied individuals and organizations interested in preserving and sustaining the area's history, built environment, beauty, geo-morphology, culture, and economic viability.
The immediate strategy is to use the symposium as a catalyst for projecting the towns' needs and resulting plan to a larger audience and to funding sources, but also to encourage discussion of alternative development models. NIAUSI's role is to document the proceedings and to make this documentation and its archives available to interested parties in the ongoing pursuit of funding for the necessary physical and cultural preservation efforts.
Civita di Bagnoregio is an exceptional example of a hill town established by the Etruscans in the sixth century B.C. in central Italy. An iconic site known to travelers for many centuries, Civita was hewn from tufa, the soft volcanic rock that distinguishes the region's natural landscape.
Today, difficult terrain and technological advances have resulted in significant challenges to the traditionally agrarian lifestyle of these hill towns. Civita is threatened by erosion, and a large section of the northwest bluff is in danger of collapse. Based on geotechnical lessons learned in the stabilization efforts in nearby Orvieto, an innovative pilot project is now under construction in Civita.
A secondary threat is the decrease in resident population and an alarming increase in uncontrolled tourism. Today, Civita has less than 12 year-round occupants, but receives as many as 3,000 tourists a day on summer weekends.
Professor Astra Zarina, a resident of Civita, with the University of Washington's School of Architecture, studied and documented Civita and its environs for over three decades.
NIAUSI was founded by alumni and friends of the University's programs in 1982, and is working with Professor Zarina and others on the protections and expansion of this documentation, and is now inviting others to help plan the future.
In this international symposium, Professor Zarina, NIAUSI, WMF, the Communes of Bagnoregio, Orvieto, and Pitigliano and the University of Florence have organized a distinguished group of local and international experts familiar with similar geo-technical projects, conservation, neighboring communities, regional planning, cultural tourism, and sustainable economic development. Go to our website to see how you too can become involved.