Post-Urban Life in the Italian Alps during a Pandemic

New paradigm or ephemeral phenomenon?


  • Maria Anna Bertolino CREPA (Centre régional d'études des populations alpines), Switzerland



Italian Alps, marginal areas, post-urban life, return migration, pandemic times


In the twentieth century, depopulation in the Italian Alps was the result of the vision of a mountain world as isolated and of the persistence of stereotypes such as that of the 'poor mountain dweller'.  At the same time, mountains were exploited by cities in order to be transformed into a place of leisure for mass tourism. Consequently, the agro-pastoral activities related to this world were neglected as a symbol of backwardness. However, over the past decade, the Alps have been affected by return migrations. The interest in rural world comes from the redefinition of the urban-rural gap and the leaving behind of the urbanism paradigm. Although this phenomenon is not new to social scientists, with the onset of COVID-19 it is assuming unexpected dimensions and accelerated developments. Images of escape from cities, when lockdown was announced in Italy on February 2020, clearly demonstrate that new visions of rural territories were emerging in the Western World. This article aims to inquire about the contemporary perception of the Italian Alps and their rediscovery during these pandemic times, to ask ourselves about the nature of this rediscovery, to what extent the representations are affected by a nostalgic attitude and how they can contribute, if well managed, to the development of a new post-urban living model.


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Idealised alpine scene