The chapter wants to take into consideration the progressive loss of identity and authenticity of the city of L’Aquila, located in the Abruzzi region of central Italy about a hundred kilometers east of Rome, after the earthquake of 2009. Described as “a small Florence of the Italian Renaissance”, L’Aquila is nestled in a basin surrounded by mountains, with what was a fully recognizable identity until the devastating earthquake which took place on April 6, 2009, the night after Palm Sunday. After those violent seismic shocks, repeated in 2016 and 2017, there was a progressive demographic depopulation, since the historic center of the capital and that of the hamlets have been closed and declared a “red zone”. The population, especially the younger ones, no longer recognizes themselves in their place of origin, and many people have preferred to leave. Authenticity, both material and formal (of the urban form) is also increasingly diminishing. Today the image of the city, which had been handed down over centuries, is lost. Immediately after the 2009 earthquake the city was closed and barred, preventing residents from remaining in their homes, even in the less damaged ones. The historic center was isolated and emptied, occupied by the military forces and the Fire Brigade. Contrary to any common sense, instead of immediately carrying out consolidation and restoration work (especially with regards to the more characteristic minor structures), it was decided to begin with long and expensive shoring and scaffolding installations. A forest of props and tie rods that secure the walls and draw imaginative and imposing patterns, thus postponing sine die urgent works. With the forced expulsion of the inhabitants which has now lasted for nearly seven years, the younger generation particularly, is showing (perhaps unconsciously) more and more indifference and detachment from their roots in the historic center. As time passes social and economic interest (as well as those of identity) in returning to their past houses fade. They prefer to pass time elsewhere, either in the suburbs where anonymous shopping centers have mushroomed, or in other cities (in some aspects this has been favored by the possibility of obtaining funds for the purchase of houses outside the municipality). This is why one can speak of a double loss of identity and continuity. The topic should, therefore, be approached from a twofold point of view: identity and continuity. Identity meaning that which transmits the original model and characteristic of place and the inhabitants; and continuity meaning that which allows you to remain permanently in the same place with a stable dwelling. We also find a dual meaning in lasting continuity; the people (inhabitants), and the space and form of architecture. Identity and continuity are also reflected in lifestyle, as well as in details, materials, colors and common feelings. A ‘sentimental heritage’ as well as a material one, which is now lost. There is, therefore, a twin theme: that of the continuation of archetypes, and that of housing models in which the population recognizes itself. Today in L’Aquila, identity has disappeared. The inhabitants no longer appear as protagonists, but are reduced to extras, to mute actors against the backdrop of an incomprehensible scene. Even if the search for a lost identity and continuity may now seem an unreal or utopian goal, it should have been the opposite; they should have been the priority and gone hand in hand with the reconstruction. At the end, the various restoration and reconstruction criteria for the survival of what remains of the city will also be examined.
Part of the book: Demographic Analysis