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While the ghost villages have lost their “life function”, they are abandoned but not forgotten

luca di figlia

on 11 December 2017

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period of abandonment
18,5 Km
5,2 Km
3,5 Km
38,5 Km
0,5 Km
3,0 Km
5,0 Km
22,5 Km
33,5 Km
18,5 Km
5,2 Km
3,5 Km

The choice of abandonment after a natural event were conceived by the inhabitants as an opportunity to radically change the status of living with the prospect of changing from one system of rural and agricultural life (away from the areas developed) to a system based on practices of more modern urban life.
The catastrophic event in itself must therefore be included in a wider context: the "escape" was probably an hypothesis that lived the public imagination for some time and the natural event was a sort of a moral justification.
With this, we can say that the exodus is largely endemic and it is not exclusively related to catastrophic events, but it is determined by the territory’s weak economic, political, and cultural infrastructure. It's indicative the distance between the old village and the new village: in Aspromonte the villages were moved from the mountains to the coast; for example the distance between old/new Roghudi is thirty-eight kilometers and it was called "the unhappiest village in Italy, perhaps the world" (Teti, 2004, pg. 65).

There is a big difference between the old and new in reference to urban typology, the population was transferred from a Mediterranean context to a new context without identity.
The natural conflict between old and new village is intrinsic to their evolutionary dynamics: if the first is the result of a slow and constant human presence in the territory, the second is due to the frenzy generated by the immediate emergency situation.
The image of a place is related to the time factor and the spatial and social processes of evolution.
In these contexts, the most crucial aspect is not so much the inevitable dislocation of identity which occurred as a result of the disaster and abandonment, as much as the creation of a new identity, which must be tied to the paths of the memory in order to give the new village a sense of belonging.
But this is not an easy journey as seen in the case of Gibellina.
1/New human activity
The research aims to investigate the reality of ghost villages in order to understand the meaning and role to be given to abandoned village, to define a field of comparison between cases identified, and to find possible models of revitalization.
the charm of the ruins:
significance attached to a
model of the life of the past:
Planning for Resilient
Cities and Regions

Rural and Landscape Planning/
Emerging Landscape
Luca Di Figlia,PhDstudent-DIdA- Department of Architecture/Florence-Italy
- atelier-artu.it
The Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) 27th Annual Congress
DUBLIN/ from 15 to 19 July 2013
Does the reality of abandoned villages form a phenomenon in itself?
What value can be attributed to abandoned villages?
After a thorough investigation carried out with surveys, bibliographical research , internet research, and the aid of information furnished by local experts in mail correspondence, 130 urban centers were identified in a state of abandonment.
abandoned villages
If it is true that the uninhabited village has lost its raison d'être by being deprived of the human element, it may presents itself with a new role. The uninhabited village transforms its role within the territory, just before, during, and after being abandoned, acquiring a new identity.
The intent of the research is to try to answer the following questions:
in the 20th and 21th century
natural causes
unnatural causes
The ghost villages can be reinterpreted through new senses, they have:
Romagnano a Monte
The revival of the abandoned village through means of new human activity is to be considered more rare, also because it involves it complex dynamics and difficult planning. The abandoned village goes back to being a place inhabited by people.
The possible re-qualification scenarios, which are presented here, are based on a survey of proposed or finished projects. the possible models of revitalization identified are divided into two categories:
Finally, the work hopes to stand as a simple witness, because it is in the transmission of knowledge and the evocation of memory that abandoned villages can be brought back to life.
thank you
Spontaneous re-population: Bussana
The phenomenon of abandonment in Italy
The sense of abandoned places
Scenarios of revitalization
While the ghost villages have lost their “life function”, they are abandoned but not forgotten: their present is located in the past and they do not remember the future, thus they become places in the memory.
2/regeneration for tourism
e.g. Mogliazze
Is it possible to imagine new scenarios or roles for abandoned villages?
This means that these villages are urbanized places where, at the current moment, there aren't the presence of current residents or the conditions that constitute the customary form of living in a settlement in a permanent or continuous manner.
geographic location
causes of abandonment
6/Construction of
public works
7/Declarations of
unfit for use

the comparison of the data shows two considerations:
Even in cases where abandonment is related to natural disaster events, significant importance must be attributed to social, economic and cultural factors that influenced the choice.
This is evident in the cases of the "double villages".
The comparison highlights the complexity of the phenomenon, because it is characterized by common elements and peculiar elements for the individual cases
There are geographical areas where the presence of abandoned villages is greater:

1/the Calabrian Aspromonte area;
2/the Appenines mountain of Tuscan-Emilian, Liguria and Abruzzo;
3/the villages in the Belice Valley (earthquake of 1968);
4/the mining villages of Sardinia.
The phenomenon peaked in the 1960s,
it had a growth from 1940s and after 1960s started to decline
The cause that has most conditioned abandonment in the majority of cases is related to the dynamics of migration.
A sense of identity tied to the
memory of the place:
Route tourism
e.g. Pentedattilo
Factors of influence in the revitalization
a/ The size of the urban fabric
b/ The state of preservation of the buildings
c/Geographical position in relation to other town/cities
d/ Accessibility
e/Presence of an active community in the area
The revaluation may be undertaken through two pathways
the revitalization projects must:
a/administrative value
b/ cultural change
Open-air Museum
Vacation homes or Country-Hotels
e.g. Finochietto
"Albergo diffuso" (Diffuse Hotel)
borgo rocchetta
The deepening of the issue has led, first and foremost, to the realization that, for their numbers and diffusion, the presence of abandoned villages since 20th century in Italy can be considered a real phenomenon.
Through the comparison of data collected, it was possible to obtain an overview of the phenomenon, which has been interpreted on the basis of the following items
In Calabria region and Liguria region are the highest number of abandoned villages

Most ghost villages is located in the mountains or the hills
The causes are categorized
in two types:
The urban construct is deprived of its original meaning by the act of abandonment, but it is possible re-thinking the ghost village through a concept of oblivion of Marc Augè. However, it is through this occurrence that it earns in the same instant, through what Marc Augé defines as a form of oblivion, a new sense. The reality of an abandoned place is configured in a domain of knowledge pertaining to remembrance and the memory. The uninhabited village becomes both the material memory and the concrete impression of one’s own past, a past that will deteriorate with the passage of time. In fact, if every place has its unique identity, and if the identity of a living space is represented by consciousness, common values, and behaviors resulting in a feeling of belonging to the given context, what identity can an abandoned village have, if it is not one inherent in the memory of those who lived there?
every village is the result of a formal stratification of human processes and of historical relations between man (community) and place. This relationship persists even in abandoned villages, even if there is no longer a direct physical relationship between man and place. The uninhabited village, firm and immutable over time, becomes the transposition of a material remembrance of a community.
the abandoned village -left to the passage of time and to oblivion- presents itself in a state of ruin and decline. The unusual atmosphere instills a kind of sacredness connected to time that stands still, to the evocative reminder of the ruins, to sense of incompleteness, and to the transience of human activity.
ghost towns tell of a time not far away, still present in the collective memory. These places have not undergone any change of modernization, industrialization, massive urbanization. These places reflect, in the collective imagination, the life of the past (tied to a respect for nature and a less hectic pace of life). Symbolically, this model can be placed in contrast to the model of the modern city
It is interesting to consider that once the negative factors that led to the abandonment (e.g., isolation and remoteness from industrial centers, etc.) now can be interpreted as positive elements for their revitalization. This fact shows that, within a few years, there has been a change of mentality, a cultural evolution that has led to greater attention to environmental issues and the rediscovery of cultural traditions. It is precisely on this evolutionary process one that must base a cultural, and later, material plan for the revitalization of ghost towns.
Ecovillages are people-oriented settlements, either rural or urban, that aspire to attain the status of models of sustainable living. In the definition by Robert and Diane Gilman (1991), the term “ecovillage” is meant as a community characterized by two fundamental conditions: eco-sustainability and intent.
For contingency factors and for increased complexity, there is only one case of spontaneous re-population: the case of Old Bussana. Bussana, evacuated in 1887 and subject to vandalism during the second half of 1900, was repopulated by artists. It has unwittingly become a social experiment of new human activity without any programming:it has evolved through the dynamics of self-government and self-management.
The village is inserted in a network of trails for hiking, biking, trekking or as a tourist destination. The abandoned village can be included in a tourist itinerary; we cannot, in this case, speak of a complete revitalization of the village and so it is more appropriate to speak of cultural re-evaluation, promoted at times by partial recovery or by temporary initiatives during the summer.This dynamic tends to exalt the incidental peculiarity of the place, that is, its ruined and unchangeable state. Its attraction for tourists lies in its very decadence.
The open air museum is a museum set within a natural park in which objects are placed that would usually be housed in the confined and reserved spaces of a museum. An open-air museum is a cross between a nature park and a museum structure, similar to an archeological reserve. The abandoned village can thus be revitalized through a requalification project to become an object of greater tourist appeal within a nature park system. Hence the village can overcome its contingent state of isolation to become functionally and perceptively a new object in the territorial context.
An abandoned village can be revitalized by conversion into accommodation facilities: holiday homes, farm holiday accommodation (“agriturismo”) or hotel villages. The village is thus transformed from a deserted place to holiday accommodation for tourists: the individual buildings are converted into reception and residence facilities consisting of a number of rooms and providing the main conveniences of a modern house. The appeal to tourists is based on the uniqueness and intrinsic attractiveness of an exclusive place and on its relationship with the environmental and historical context in which it is placed.
The uninhabited village, given its general condition of decay and neglect, may be regarded either as a reject of modern society, which - framed in a predominantly utilitarian and functionalist logic geared at instant profit - does not recognize it in any practical utility and forgets about it, or, as a territorial asset, reinterpreted in a qualifying perspective that does not stop to consider only the current state of decay, but takes awareness of the existential quality and identity value of that place. By assigning a new meaning, it can acquire a new function and a new use within the territory and for the territory.
Unlike a normal hotel, whose facilities are to be found in a single building, this model consists of several components linked to each other by the same management, but located in different buildings within a small village. The adjective “diffuso” thus denotes an organization that is not vertical but horizontal: composed of a central structure, the reception and a system of lodgings that are separated but not too far from each other. The “albergo diffuso” is an accommodating, homogeneous structure which enables tourists to stay in an urban environment of quality, in contact with the residents, using normal hotel facilities. this model has been used in villages in depopulation with good benefits but not completely abandoned villages
The recovery of a uninhabited village is a difficult and long pathway, influenced by many factors.
The settlements -according to their physical characteristics- can be adapted or more or less to a particular type of intervention. It is possible to identify some of determinants elements of causal connection between the state of the abandoned village and the possible scenarios of revitalization:
The revaluation may be undertaken through two pathways, the starting points:
be respectful of the place of its traditions and its memory.
be integrated with the territory in a economic, social, cultural network and tourism promotion.
Old Town New Town old/new town
Gibellina Vecchia
Poggioreale Vecchio
Salaparuta Vecchia
Gibellina =
Poggioreale =
Salaparuta =
33,5 Km
0,5 Km
3,0 Km
5,0 KM
22 KM
38,5 KM
Old Town New Town old/new town
bIANCO VecchiO
AFRICO nuovo =
roghudi vecchio
casalinuovo d'africo
amendolea vecchia
gibellina vecchia
gibellina nuova
gibellina nuova
Bussana vecchia
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