Leaving a mark on the landscape | The Plan
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Leaving a mark on the landscape

Giovanni Vaccarini

The central Italian region of Abruzzo has a clear-cut geographical layout: the valleys in the Apennine Mountains range to the west slice across the coastal plains perpendicular to the Adriatic Sea. Diffusely populated, with scattered pockets of dense urbanization, the region is characterized by a railway line running along the coast, disappearing at intervals into tunnels, almost as if to recall how modernity tiptoed into this part of Italy. In his Viaggio in Italia (literally “journey to Italy”), Guido Piovene called Abruzzo an “almost insular” region of strong colors whose age-old activities of sheep farming and handicraft had not only molded the character of the people but also instilled an aesthetic sense grounded in the picturesque deriving from the things and events of everyday life. Since Piovene’s day, the region’s industrious craftsmanship has much changed; this strange, eclectic, even contradictory activity that has been an abiding feature of Italian life - and one of its mysteries - has, since the 1960s, here almost spontaneously and effortlessly metamorphosed into a series of small and medium enterprises, which sprung up in the many rural communities that dot the region. Craft businesses are flexible. Piovene himself describes them as “receiving and transforming everything, covering everything like the incrustations that wrap and almost totally envelope objects lying at the bottom of the sea”. Crafts and craftsmanship flourish in the effervescent industrial districts of Abruzzo: flexible, pragmatic, swift to change and export-oriented. Developed in anarchical fashion throughout the area, they are quick to take on board economic developments and adapt accordingly.

This is the backdrop against which we should set the work and poetic of architect Giovanni Vaccarini. For one has to understand the exceptional features of this region in a country as diverse as Italy. Indeed for years now,...

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