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30.09.2019

Agrarian landscapes: from marginal areas to cultural landscapes—paths to sustainable tourism in small villages—the case of Vico Del Gargano in the club of the Borghi più belli d’Italia

Zeitschrift:
Quality & Quantity
Autor:
Simona Giordano
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Abstract

The territory of Gargano is recognized for its stunning landscapes and the ecological variety of its natural spaces, both within the boundaries of the National Park and outside, especially in small villages such as Vico del Gargano. The natural heritage is a fundamental vector of tourist attractiveness, almost a real “brand image”. Despite the importance of the territory’s tourism economy, natural resources are often scarcely valued. In order to maintain the level of quality of reception and, at the same time, the environment, the preservation of areas with high ecological value together with the structuring elements of the landscape is essential, while maintaining a dynamic economic activity. Reconciling productivity issues, both in the short and medium-long term, and preservation of biodiversity is not always easy and “obvious”. It is vital to capitalize on the natural wealth of territories to leverage the development of the tourist economy, through concrete actions and policies aimed at accompanying economic actors and enable them to put in place best practices to protect the environment and value biodiversity, all towards the sustainable development of territories. The recovery and preservation of the “traditional” agricultural activities is certainly an economical as well as a socio-cultural issue, and plays a fundamental role in shaping the mentioned agricultural landscapes in such a way as to foster tourism development. As a matter of fact, it is quite difficult to imagine tourists willing to visit big plantations or orchards and tents, which look like “industrial sheds”; the traditional campaigns, the surviving ones, continue to be, as it has always been, ideal places for an authentic experience of rediscovery of values, tastes, smells and “ancient” varieties, of excellent products. All this sort of cultural upheaval is something certainly complex, a sign of a real turning point that is investing every sphere of human knowledge, the recognition of the mentioned landscapes as reservoirs of biodiversity and cultural heritage. This is particularly true and important in the context of small villages, whose fragile wealth of knowledge, adaptive mechanisms, resources that cultural landscapes preserve, all play a strategic role. It is of particular interest to analyse how agricultural landscapes, conceivable as “cultural landscapes”, become an expression of the continuous integration between human activities and natural dynamics; they embed elements of beauty, of naturalness, of scenic quality, that continue to exert strong attraction, thus playing a strong social, cultural and historical role, as well as representing a legacy of knowledge that enables the “modelling” of sustainable farming. The actual challenge of sustainable tourism initiatives is precisely that of bringing economic capital, cultural capital and environmental capital at the same level of importance and consideration. In the context of the Club of the Borghi più belli d’Italia, founded in 2001 and conceived within the Tourism Council of the A.N.C.I. with the aim of enhancing and promoting the great heritage of history, art and culture present in the Small Italian villages, Vico Del Gargano represents a unique treasure of different relevant possibilities to develop an effective sustainable tourism, aimed at reconciling cultural heritage and environment and biodiversity safeguard. As a member of a list of about 280 villages belonging to the Club, all certificated on the basis of a specific regulation, expression of the best Made in Italy and Italian excellence, Vico Del Gargano embeds high potential resources to enhance its great heritage of history, art, culture, environment and traditions, mostly excluded from the traditional flows of visitors and tourists. The present contribution aims at an initial overview of the state of the art concerning landscape analysis. Furthermore, the main scope is to propose a methodological analysis through the use of “landscape ecology” approaches, as well as the creation of innovative paths for an effective “bottom-up” valorization, to be carried out as to involve all the local stakeholders. Numerous small villages in Italy, and Vico Del Gargano as well, are in danger of depopulation and consequent degradation, due to a marginal situation, compared to the economic interests that gravitate around the “mass” tourist and commercial movements. The proposition aims to select a tourist circuit of excellence, as indicated by the mentioned Club, constantly monitored and evaluated, capable of reconciling both architectural and/or natural heritage, a heritage that is appreciated for its urban and architectural quality, as well as for its natural and environmental wealth. Furthermore, the role of the Consortium of Producers of the Borghi più belli d’Italia Ecce Italy brings together the excellent activities of the eno-gastronomy and crafts in the member villages, with particular reference to guided tours and events related to local products (Cf.: https://​borghipiubellidi​talia.​it/​category/​puglia/​). It is vital to foster the creation of ad hoc “routes” to promote local products and enhance biodiversity safeguard. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the present proposition is in strict compliance with the initiative of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities MIBACT, that dedicated the year 2017 to the Borghi and with the “Save Borghi” law (6th October 2017, No. 158), a series of concrete actions, ranging from infrastructural interventions, to digital strategies and accessibility, to corporate policies, aimed at revitalizing sustainable tourism in small villages such as Vico Del Gargano.

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