Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Meditation on the Italian Countryside

Between 1950 and 2005 the Italian countryside lost to asphalt and concrete a total of 3.66 million hectares, a figure larger than the combined size  of Tuscany and Umbria.
So David Gilmour in The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoples (2011).  I can't contradict him; I never saw Italy before 1950.  But driving across southern Tuscany last fall, I was impressed at how empty it seemed.  I suppose partly the point is hill country: you certainly can't farm anything much out here and maybe the highest and best use is the production of the admirable wild boar sausage.

The other side of Rome, you find the Capuan Plane which one may think of as empty though it's not: the problem is rather that it seems to belong to the Camorra and thus becomes a place where respectable folks, Italian and otherwise, just don't want to go.  Once malaria country; evidently the mobsters are immune to the mosquito.   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a ship i was able seaman on about '47 carried corn from argentina to genova so i was in italy once. we loaged the corn -- five holds full of loose corn -- in rosario and buenos aires, at corn yards owned by something like bunge Y borne. biggest rats in the world lived there and they came on the ship with the corn. they had all they wanted to eat in the holds but they'd come on deck or in the ship's superstructure looking for water. you sure didn't want to fight one. in genova we'd shack up all night just to get away from the rats. well, not just for that, but it was part of it. lots of whores were amatuers, putting bread on the family table.