Is Italy "il bel paese" - the beautiful country - where tourists spend their vacations looking for art, history, and nature? Or is it a land whose beauty has been cursed by humanity's greed and nature's cruelty? The answer is largely a matter of narrative and the narrator's vision of Italy. The fifteen essays in "Nature and History in Modern Italy" investigate that nation's long experience in managing domesticated rather than wild natures and offer insight into these conflicting visions. Italians shaped their land in the most literal sense, producing the landscape, sculpting its heritage, embedding memory in nature, and rendering the two different visions inseparable. The interplay of Italy's rich human history and its dramatic natural diversity is a subject with broad appeal to a wide range of readers.
Marco Armiero is a senior researcher at the Institute for the Study of Mediterranean Societies at the Italian National Research Council and a visiting scholar at Stanford University. He has published extensively on Italian environmental history and edited "Views from the South: Environmental Stories from the Mediterranean World".
Marcus Hall is senior lecturer in environmental sciences at the University of Zurich and assistant professor of history at the University of Utah. His book "Earth Repair: A Transatlantic History of Environmental Restoration" received the Downing Book Award of the Society of Architectural Historians.
There is currently no such thing as a coherent synthetic history of Italian environmental particularities such as landslides, deforestation, the early established but inadequate areas of preserved 'wilderness,' the wild zones of massive toxic pollution, and the distinctive landscape symbolism of a late-unifying nation-state. So, this book is to be welcomed as much for its pioneering quality as for the intellectual strengths and empirical interest of its various chapters.
- John Agnew, UCLA, author of Place and Politics in Modern Italy"