Places: Solfatara, Manziana (IT)

Manziana is a town about an hour north-west of the Vatican on the FL3 train line just a whistle from the shores of Lake Bracciano.

The town was founded by Tuscan timber cutters in the 19th century to tend to the Pope’s forest and remained a place marked by arboriculture and forestry until the 1970s. Population increased from 3000 to 4000 in the 1970s, then to 5200 in the 1980s, 5800 in the 1990 and to 7000 in the 2000s where it stands. The fiscal crisis and austerity measures that plummeted real estate prices and public employment in Lazio took the steam off further development pressure, but also lead to uneasiness and disorientation of the village’s future development.

If commuting to Rome is not increasing, and jobs in Rome are becoming scarcer, what should become of Manziana? Everywhere one sees Manziana is looking into the past, bearing witness of an identity that lingers on in buildings and on old faces, but this identity fails to provide a living to present and future generations. The annual chestnut festival in the centre of the village and a remarkable school initiative reminds everyone who care about the (agri-)cultural roots, but do have still have enough life in then to grow new branches and provide new fruits? What would these fruits taste like? And is the commuting population of Manziana willing to grow new local roots?

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Through the TURaS programme, OSMOS is involved in exploring the vision of the area through the lens of a former sulphur mine that adjoins the Bosco di Manziana.  The once contaminated mine was cleaned up through an EU co-funded LIFE program which extended to the adaptation of a number of the mine-related buildings.

Local stakeholders have high expectations for this site – for very different reasons.  Firstly the site has remained dormant for over two decades at the village’s doorstep.  One of the biggest challenges will be to find a common vision for the future of Manziana – its industry, its source of employment, its relationship with the forest and woods surrounding the site and so on.  Like Janus, how can Manziana look into the past to reach to the future?

We will be expanding on the curatorial method used at the Parco Agricolo yet with a much more specific focus on the theme of wood.  More to follow in mid March.