The light at the end of the tunnel: food, tourism and marginalization in rural Italy
Michele Filippo Fontefrancesco (University of Gastronomic Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
The paper ethnographically explores the sense of marginalization lived by rural communities in North-Western Italy. It analyses how rural communities negotiate a new cultural centrality through embracing quality food production and tourism.
Paper long abstract:
What is the future for Italian rural communities? They are living a fast marginalization of rural communities marked by the lack of infrastructure and depopulation, aging, and impoverishment. The paper answers to this question by exploring ethnographically the ongoing institutional and social transformations in a small municipality in North-Western Italy. The article reads the new forms of entrepreneurship linked with quality food production and tourism as an endemic response to the diminishing of the communities' condition. In so doing it points at the profile of a paradoxical dynamic: while it is increasingly difficult for villagers to get access to the services offered in the cities, urban dwellers are getting more and more interested in the traditions and products made in the rural areas, moving to the villages. This paradox of distance foreshadows the future of small municipalities; a time in which rural communities could become little more than ethnic zoos for the anthropological curiosity of city inhabitants. The paper is developed on the basis of the ongoing ethnographic work conducted by the author for over ten years in North-Western Italy.
Provincial challenges: making sense of political cultures in towns and trading centres