"Immota Manet – Art after the Earthquake in L’Aquila" is a documentary project which offers a cause for reflection on restoration of artistic heritage and on post-disaster reconstruction in Italy. The country has numerous heritage sites, and half of them are located in areas at risk. Italy has indeed hydrogeological instability and a high seismic risk. The city of L'Aquila, situated in the Abruzzo region, has been afflicted by earthquakes since its foundation at the end of the XIII century. In 2009, it was struck again by another violent earthquake, which caused great damage in the city and in the nearby towns. The historical heritage was severely affected as well. Through a visual approach, "Immota Manet" offers a new perspective on a topic which is often perceived as intricate and distant: historical buildings are not marginal in a reconstruction after a disaster, indeed they contribute in shaping our sense of belonging to a community. Monuments survive throughout history, whether damaged, changed or restored. Does restoration transform them in a fabrication of history at some point? This project is an opportunity to learn about Abruzzo, one of the least known regions in Italy, to get closer to details which remain unnoticed most of the time, and to think about fragility and alteration of identity.

Map of L'Aquila, XVIII century

When the the city of L'Aquila was founded in the Middle Ages, its structure was divided in four quarters: Santa Maria Paganica, Santa Giusta, San Marciano and San Pietro a Coppito (clockwise). Each quarter had a most important church called "chiesa capoquarto", which has been highlighted in red.

Detail of a fresco under restoration

One of the reintegration techniques observed on frescoes was the use of “tratteggio” or “rigatino” (visible on the right of the crack). The technique dates back to the restoration theory of Cesare Brandi in 1963. This kind of intervention is reversible and it is employed only on lacunae of small dimensions which can be easily reconstructed using small vertical lines.

Teatro Comunale, boxes

The Teatro comunale is located in the quarter of Santa Maria Paganica. This Neoclassical building was inauguratd in 1873 with the opera Un Ballo in Maschera by Giuseppe Verdi. The façade of the theatre has been damaged by the 2009 earthquake and the vault of the foyer “Sala Rossa” collapsed. The teatro has a horseshoe shaped parterre. There are three rows of galleries with 57 boxes and a loggione with a total of 600 seats. The goal now is bringing the theatre back to its original structure and reopening this beautiful cultural and artistic space in 2023, for the 150th anniversary of its foundation.

Pillars and scaffolding, L'Aquila cathedral

The cathedral of San Massimo and San Giorgio is situated in Piazza del Duomo, o del Mercato, the most important square of the city, where markets have been held since the Middle Ages. The cathedral was built on an existing church, which dates back to when the archdiocese was moved from Forcona to L’Aquila in 1256 by Pope Alexander IV.

Basilica di Collemaggio, façade

With its delicate pink and white stone pattern on the façade, this basilica is a gemstone of the Abruzzese Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Some researchers suggest that the damage provoked by the last earthquake has also been caused by the fairly criticized restoration works performed at the end of the Sixties. Back then, the Gothic church was almost completely reinvented and architectural and structural mistakes were made during the works. Despite being completely incompatible, reinforced concrete was used. The Baroque structures of naves, aisles and choir were completely removed.

Basilica di Collemaggio before restoration, 1960s

Original Baroque coffering before the restoration at the end of the Sixties. (Credits: Comitato Abruzzese del Paesaggio)

Basilica di Collemaggio after the restoration, 1970s

Credits: Comitato Abruzzese del Paesaggio

Fresco in basilica di Collemaggio

During the restoration works carried out at the end of the Sixties in the basilica, this fresco representing a nun has been discovered.

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