Eight square meters per second is the rate at which in Italy’s beauty, biodiversity, agriculture and culture is paved. The gradual erosion of cultivated land has changed the face of the entire country. Once Italy was an agricultural nation, now in all respects, it is a cement country. The proportion of the in Italy so-called “cementificazione” (overbuilding) phenomenon has no comparison in the rest of Europe: Every year in Italy 250,000 hectares of land disappear under the cement whereas for example in Germany it is 11,000 hectares. Just between 1990 and 2005, 3,5 million hectares of land were covered with cement (an area equal to the combined size of the Umbria and Veneto regions). Over the past 10 years 4 million new houses have been built, although 5,2 million are still vacant. The total absence of a serious city planning since the 50’s has led to the creation of a hybrid landscape where the confines between city and farmland are no longer recognisable. Passing from a rural country to an industrialised one, the Italian cities began to enlarge without control and the rural land began to disappear. Whereas this phenomenon had precise reasons after the second world war, during the years of the so called “Italian economic miracle”, in the past thirty years it finds its only reasons in the real estate speculation. The urban sprawl rages all over the country: the towns, no longer distinguishable from each other, are faster and faster invading the farmland creating areas that are no longer rural but not yet cities. The devastation of the landscape involves a long series of problems: among which the loss of Italian cultural identity and the ever-growing hydro-geological instability: In 20 years Italy has been hit by an incredible wave of disasters: 5400 floods, 11,000 landslides over the past 80 years, involving 70,000 people and 30,000 billion Euros worth of damages (ISPRA data). Local administrators and politicians don’t understand the drama of their choices, taken without considering the definitiveness of their effects: a field covered with concrete will never be cultivable again. The ecosystem is irremediably compromised.
This work would have been impossible without the help of Italia Nostra Tuscany, Liguria and Sicily. No Tav Valle di Susa. Salviamo il Paesaggio coordinamento di Roma e provincia, Penne (PE), Paola (CS), Acireale (CT). Fai Veneto. Legambiente Mugello. Wwf Emilia-Romagna e Friuli-Venezia Giulia. SalValpolicella. CAT Riviera del Brenta e Miranese. Centro di ricerca sui consumi di suolo-crcs Milano.