The landscape and its multiple meanings

Ines Romitti

The landscape is something complex, it is born first of all in the mind of the subject, it is formed through the vision of that set of objects and views that alternate on the territory. Landscape is the alternation of cultural heritage (churches, monasteries, castles, historic centers, etc.) with natural beauties (views of mountains, sea, forests, rivers, etc.). Landscape is also the set of all the traditions of a people or a city (popular festivals, way of life, etc…). When referring to the landscape in general, it is necessary to refer to all these important and characterizing elements.

The landscape is like a large painting and to see and understand it you need to make use of the five senses of the human body: “sight”, “smell”, “hearing”, “taste” and “touch”.

Sight is undoubtedly the main way to understand the landscape. Seeing is knowledge. Seeing means penetrating the object, in this case the landscape, and relating it to ourselves. Sight cannot do without light capable of designing a particular atmosphere. In the landscape, the light gives life to colors and shapes that acquire a different meaning, from the mysterious, to the dreamy, to the heavenly: the greyness of an oncoming storm that is the background of a medieval village or a ruined castle still illuminated by the last rays of the sun, a sunset enjoyed from the high mountains, a splendid view of the sea on a beautiful sunny day. The sense of smell or smell makes us feel the scents of the landscape, scents that come from the fields, from the earth, from fruit trees, from hedges.

Hearing brings us closer to popular songs but also to birdsong, to the falling waters of a waterfall or stream, to the sound of the waves of the sea, to the sound of the wind;

Touch makes us feel the majesty of an oak or olive tree trunk but also the stone of an ancient building surrounded by greenery;

The taste makes us savor the fruits that are born in the landscape and those typical products that have highlighted the customs and habits of a people for centuries.

The sense of smell makes us feel the many smells of the trees and many scents of the grass of the fields, of the aromatic herbs, of the fruits and of the flowers.

The image of the Italian landscape understood as a “natural picture” was a beautiful intuition of Benedetto Croce, who promoted the first important law “for the protection of natural beauties and buildings of particular historical interest”, published in the Official Gazette on 21 June 1922. According to Croce, it was the observer who recognized a qualitative value in the “enjoyment” of the landscape, a value that had to be protected and preserved over time.

Here is what Croce writes:

“Certainly the feeling, all modern, that takes hold of us at the spectacle of waters rushing into the abyss, of snowy peaks, of centuries-old forests, of resounding rivers, of infinite horizons derives from the same source, from which flows the joy that pervades us to the contemplation of a picture with harmonious colors, to the hearing of an inspired melody, to the reading of a book full of images and thoughts. And if modern civilization felt the need to defend, for the good of all, the painting, the music, the book, it is not clear why it took so long to prevent the beauties of nature from being destroyed or tampered with, that they give man such pure spiritual enthusiasm and are actually inspirers of sublime works. It is not from now, moreover, that the concepts of man were revealed to be the product, as well as of the social conditions of the historical moment, in which he was born, of the world that surrounds him, of the happy or sad nature in which he lives. , the climate, the sky, the atmosphere in which it moves and breathes. “

For Croce the landscape was the spiritual identity of a community, and destroying or degrading it meant destroying the very spirit of that community, leading the members themselves to totally lose their relationship with their places, uprooting their historical and cultural roots.

The Italian cultural landscape as a place of inspiration and art

When it comes to the Italian cultural landscape, one must look at a Made in Italy brand of the highest level that preserves UNESCO sites and places of inestimable historical and cultural value that are unique in the world. The Italian cultural landscape has always been a place of inspiration, it has generated emotions in travelers and artists, it has been studied and contemplated by botanists and naturalists. It is a treasure that can generate income and create jobs. The Italian cultural landscape is a set of wonders ranging from works of art, churches, castles, ruins of the classical age, to Mediterranean views and traditions … all this creates an incredible feeling of admiration and charm. Emotion is the great protagonist of our Italian landscape.

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