72176 - History of the Italian Landscape

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Ravenna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History, preservation and enhancement of artistic and archaeological heritage and landscape (cod. 9218)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the students will be able to analyze the morphology and structure of Italian landscapes and reconstruct their evolution, using appropriate terminology (environment, territory, space, landscapes, borders etc.), specific bibliographies (repertoires, publications, documentations etc., in print and online), cartographic sources (maps, atlases, drawings, sketches, cabrei, aerial and satellite photographs etc.). In particular, they will be able to: deal with the study of urban and rural historical topography, recognizing techniques, purposes, limits, and ideologies; interpret the toponymy of settlements, reliefs, bodies of water, etc.; investigate the evolution of the territory through comparative exegeses of documentary and material sources involving multiple disciplinary fields (geography, history, archeology, ecology, agro-forestry-pastoral sciences, etc.).

Course contents

The landscape:
Landscape has recently been described as the product of human activities on the natural topographical platform and also as the cultural perception that settled communities have of themselves in that context. It is a spatial and functional system made up of relationships between natural and artificial, physiological and cultural components. This system is in constant transformation with the cycles of the seasons, the natural succession of the ecosystems and the social, economic, and cultural evolution of the human communities that inhabit it. Constant care and maintenance brought about by established regimes convert the dynamic equilibrium of natural environments into stable equilibrium, just as unsustainable practices lead to disruptive collapses. With the succession of different regimes, conspicuous transformations affect the landscapes.

Contenuti del corso:
The course is organized in two parts. The first part outlines the genesis and evolution of the notion of landscape in the Western culture, the disciplines that contributed to its study, and the idea of its institutional protection. The fundamental methodological aspects for the historical investigation of landscape regimes (characteristic morphologies and processes) are then illustrated starting from documentary and material sources. The second part presents the history of the Italian landscape from the pre-classical colonization of the peninsula to the emergence of the contemporary ecological awareness. The historical review focuses on moments of discontinuity and is accompanied by the analysis of specific cases representative of different phases. In groups or individually, the students are also asked to experiment the methods of analysis learned on proposed case studies.

The course maintains an operational perspective, providing and experimenting methods of analysis to develop interpretative frameworks of given landscapes, reconstruct their evolution over time, and orient future transformative or conservative action on them.


'General readings' for attending and non-attending students:
- Carlo Tosco, Il paesaggio storico. Le fonti e i metodi di ricerca, Laterza 2009

'Additional readings' required for non-attending students:
- Emilio Sereni, Storia del paesaggio agrario italiano, Laterza 1961

Non-required readings:
- Mauro Agnoletti et al., Paesaggi rurali storici. Per un catalogo nazionale, Laterza 2010 (theme: the Italian landscape as product and externality of anthropic regimes in history)
- Piero Camporesi, Le belle contrade. Nascita del paesaggio italiano, Il Saggiatore 2016 [1992] (theme: the rediscovery of the notion of landscape by the Italian Humanism)
- Carlo Tosco, Il paesaggio come storia, Il Mulino 2007 (theme: historic evolution of the notion of landscape and the disciplines that contribute to its studies)
- Eugenio Turri, Semiologia del paesaggio italiano, Marsilio 1979 (theme: the transformation of the Italian landscape during the post-WWII 'economic miracle')

Teaching methods

The typical class session is divided into two lectures supported by projections, each followed by class discussion/debate. Some sessions in seminar format will be dedicated to the analysis of case studies. The students will work in groups or individually and then present the results to the class, with the aim of triggering active and collaborative learning dynamics. Some sessions will be dedicated to the inspection of sites of scenic interest (in the absence of circumstantial impediments). Preparatory readings for specific sessions will be indicated in the didactic calendar presented at the beginning of the course.

Assessment methods

Attending students:
Final exam: individual oral interview aimed at verifying the learning of the proposed methodologies and the critical elaboration of the topics addressed during the course and through the general readings. Weighed factors contributing to the final evaluation of each student: proactive and collaborative participation in the sessions and activities of the course (30% = 9 points out of 30), the understanding of the topics addressed (25% = 7.5 points out of 30), the ability of original critical elaboration (25%= 7.5 points out of 30) and the terminological, argumentative and dialectical properties (20% = 6 points out of 30). Excellent performances will be awarded ‘cum laude’.

Non-attending students:
Final exam: individual oral interview aimed at verifying the learning and critical processing of the issues addressed through the general and additional readings. Weighed factors contributing to the final evaluation of each student: the understanding of the topics covered by the course through general and additional readings (40%= 12 points out of 30), the ability of original critical elaboration (40% = 12 points out of 30) and the terminological, argumentative, and dialectical properties (20%= 6 points out of 30). Excellent performances will be awarded ‘cum laude’.

Teaching tools

Projections illustrating written, cartographic, photographic sources, general, additional, and specific bibliographies, digital and printed didactic material.

Office hours

See the website of Roberto Pasini


Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production Climate Action Life on land

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.