I PAESAGGI DELLE ALPI
A journey in the high lands through philosophy, nature and history
Through Salsa’s lens the alpine landscape goes from being seen to being experienced, making it a vital space. The landscapes in the Alps are the result of continuous interaction over time between humans and the mountains: human activities leave traces, which become signs, symbols, and stratified testimony to stories and events. In other words, it is human beings that «make the landscape» and in it we can perceive the hybridisation of nature and culture. To understand alpine landscapes, we need to trace back their genesis by identifying the factors and events that have affected their construction. At the same time, we also need to examine the individual and collective processes involved in creating the sense behind the choice of living in such places. Keeping these two perspectives in mind, we can understand how responsible practices that make careful use of resources, are conscious of the value of restrictions, and are founded on a sense of belonging and participation constitute the only way to transform such a fragile area without destroying it, so that those who live there can continue to do so.
Annibale Salsa, anthropologist and expert in all aspects of the Alps, taught Philosophical and Cultural Anthropology at Genoa University, and is past president of the Italian Mountaineering Club (CAI), as well as president of the Population and Culture Work Group for the Alpine Convention.
He writes articles and essays in scientific journals dealing with the anthropology of mountain tourism, in particular in the Alps.
An essay that takes one essential step forward for those who wish to continue working towards divulging knowledge about the mountains and caring about them. It is first and foremost a vast fresco of the history of ideas, in which the world of the Alps, which are the quintessence of the mountain universe, is examined over time through different eyes and with a variety of human perceptions: a land of fatigue and fear for the mountain dweller; a sublime spectacle for city folk; a war zone for the soldier; an arts and crafts workshop for those skilled in building a range of wonderfully adaptive forms; above all, and here the author’s and the jury’s heart rate quickens, an amazing anthology of experiences of the long-lasting regulations still extant over the entire alpine range, with which the communities there exercise “another way of possessing” common goods and natural space and culture that are neither private nor belong to the public domain, and which cannot be sold or acquired by squatters’ rights, or change their destination of use. They therefore guarantee the persistence of the widespread legacy of agricultural land, pastures and woods on which are based the first small but utterly important signs of a “return to the high lands”.