{ restauro }


Keywords: propaganda, gattopardismo, modernism, facade

In the introduction to Uses of Heritage, Laurajane Smith argues that the authentic essence of heritage—the pivotal juncture when our emotions and personal identity become genuinely involved—resides not solely in the acquisition of material possessions, but rather in the process of transmitting and receiving both memories and knowledge. Additionally, this essence is made manifest in how we subsequently employ, transform, and reconstruct these memories and knowledge, aiding us in comprehending and interpreting not only our present state of being, but also our aspirations for the future.[1]

In the same book, Smith introduces the concept of ‘Authorized Heritage Discourse’ (AHD) to refer to a dominant set of ideas, values and practices that shape and regulate how heritage is defined, understood, and managed within society.[2] According to Smith, AHD represents a particular way of constructing and presenting heritage that is influenced by institutions, experts, and governing bodies. It establishes a hierarchy of significance, determining what is considered valuable and worthy of preservation, while marginalizing or excluding other forms of heritage that do not align with the authorized narratives.

In the case of Borgo Rizza, the Authorized Heritage Discourse advocated by the preservation regime of the Soprintendenza dei Beni Culturali—the Italian governmental institution responsible for the protection, preservation, and promotion of cultural heritage—seems more interested in restoring a sense of “the original” by mandating that each intervention on the buildings should include the restoration of the original color, building knowledge, and plasters. However, if the primary purpose of the borghi during fascism was, as Deschermeier states, ‘drawing an ideal image of a city in which the power of the fascist regime is depicted’ why should we seek to restore this idea in the present day?[3] Although Borgo Rizza is categorized as rational modern architecture, it incorporates different techniques: experiments with slabs in brick and reinforced concrete; a volcanic masonry constructed with stones dating back to the Pleistocene era using secular Sicilian techniques on the lower floors; and a tough lighter masonry on the upper floors. Ironically, it is in the partially deteriorating plaster of the restored buildings, and in the unrestored constructions, that it is possible to see the material complexity of Borgo Rizza. Behind the surface of uniform plaster lies the intricate entanglement of the colonial past where new imported technology intersects with local materials and building techniques. We suggest that, instead of being an issue to be fixed, the crumbling plaster should become the framework to reclaim the restauro as a political act, for implementing a critical preservation approach that acknowledges colonial legacies, restores marginalized histories; and ultimately passes down narratives otherwise excluded.


[1] Smith, L. (2006). The Uses of Heritage. London: Routledge, p.2-3
[2] ibid.
[3] ” Le città di fondazione dell’Agro Pontino,” Treccani, accessed May 11, 2023


Steffie de Gaetano, Alice Pontiggia, Silvia Susanna