Urban Walls: Examination and Possible Restoration.

Two Case Studies

by

Valeria Montanari

Keywords

  • urban walls
  • ancient town
  • landscape
  • territory
  • conservation
  • restoration

Urban walls constitute the main element in the relations of a town with its surrounding environment; a relationship that changes over time, determining not just specific economic and social characteristics, but aesthetic and visual factors as well; in other words, elements pertinent to the memory of a given place. Walls mark the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ of a territory, the boundary beyond which change occurs.

This contribution aims to compare, by examining the distinctive elements that set them apart, the two urban realities of Cascia and Norcia, two towns situated in the Province of Perugia, in the eastern part of the Umbria region called ‘Valnerina’ (or the Nera River Valley), an area where the risk of earthquakes is high. In both towns, the work done over the centuries on their perimeter walls (full-fledged urban monuments) has played a critical role in the history of the urban settings and the surrounding territory. The wall that surrounds Norcia still exists materially, and retains its figurative significance, with the exception of the portions that collapsed recently; the wall of Cascia, on the other hand, has almost totally disappeared, having collapsed or having been demolished at various points in time, with the result that only a few historic entry gates and ruins still stand. It follows that any approach to preserving and interpreting their formal and aesthetic features must necessarily start from a critical analysis of the two perimeter walls.