Li Cull’

Il Campo


Marta Pagliuca Pelacani

There is a field lying uncultivated in a neighborhood of the city of Pescara (IT), a place known in dialect as Li Cull’ – the hills. This field is the site. It belongs to a family of landowners who owned this land for longer than anybody can remember. Li Cull’ is a peripheral fraction of the provincial city of Pescara (IT). Interviewed by the press, locals refer to it as a place that has “lost its soul and identity”.[1] Over the past twenty years, ‘Pescara Colli’ transformed according to some locals on instagram into a kind of #colliwood.[2] The neighborhood is no longer home to a strong rural community tied to its landscape. The edification boom that followed the 1960s miracolo economico italiano[3] has ended, leaving behind the empty skeletons of unfinished residential buildings and rivers of terraced houses where ‘home’ is a brand of post-industrial ready mix made of IKEA tables and cement. My mother was born in colliwood the 15th of November 1963. In nine days, I will pack up my life and move back to Li Cull’, in one of the terraced houses that borders this field. I still know this field like I did as a kid, as the place of fantastical snakes and scary rustling noises reverberating across its tall grasses. I have learned to know it as others did, in the way that adults know everything, which is just gossip. I learned one day at Santa’s, over coffee, about how when the old man – the landowner – was still alive, Minuccio (her husband) asked him why he kept the olives unpicked on their branches. To this, the old man is said to have answered that it was because la gente s’addà affamà (‘people need to be hungry’). I choose to know this site as someone who believes Santa and Minuccio’s story, so that their honesty, their humility, and the kindness with which they have been the centre of our hamlet’s communal life, becomes part of the field as I know it. The field is uncultivated, but not unkept. Twice a year, following the ingegnere’s call to the fire department, the heirs of the old man send someone to cut the grass to prevent fires. Then all goes again quiet. It is then that the others start to appear: the couple that walks the french bulldogs, the recovering heroin addict whose herb garden makes the grandmothers mutter, and the elderly gentleman carrying a plastic bag, who only shows up after rain showers. My mum says he is searching for snails as we watch him disappear in the new growth.


[1] “I Colli: da paese “di comunità” a quartiere residenziale” 5 January 2023


[3] Miracolo economico Italiano (the Italian economic miracle) was a period of strongly unbalanced economic growth that hit postwar Italy, and more specifically, the Italian North. Despite this definition being clearly problematic with respect to the already strong disparity between North and South, it is still in use to this day. In Southern provincial landscapes such as those of Pescara, the miracolo economico mostly took the shape of an ecological disaster, in which hectares and hectares of previously agricultural land was bought off the peasants that left their ancestral homes in the hope of finding jobs in the cities and attaining above poverty-standard lifestyles. After the first years of development, some of these projects remained – at least in Colliwood – unfinished, littering the landscape with the refuse of Abruzzo’s unfulfilled american dream. Better sources on the ‘miracolo’ coming soon: