13 October 2009

Un Bella Casa?


Concrete skeletons

A beautiful stone villa perched on a hillside surrounded by olive trees and grape vines makes for a picture perfect Italian home. This however is not the reality for the majority of housing in Italy post World War II. That easy to use building product, concrete that was so widely used by the Romans, is frequently the preferred building material for new residential and commercial construction. Even newer houses that look like they are built of stone may have a concrete skeleton beneath that charming stone or brick fa├žade.

In some parts of Italy you will find unfinished shells of houses dotting the landscape, many times obviously abandoned for many years. These unsightly skeletons will be an eyesore to those who are expecting an idyllic Italian view and there are regions and provinces where they proliferate more than others.

Just as any society that wants cheaper, newer and more convenient housing, so do Italians, and for many building with concrete can make this possible. There are areas of Italy where preservation of old houses and architectural styles is driven by the market selling to foreigners, those who want the view of Italy taken from movies and magazines. Unfortunately for many financially struggling Italians this is not a reality.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Bryan, Lyn and Anthony here. Hope you all are getting happily settled in your latest adventure.

We saw many of these skeletons in the southern part of Italy and speculated on the reason. Slow Trav had a thread on this and some people claimed it is because the Italians build slowly over a long time as they can afford it and because the south is poorer they take longer. I don't think that is the reason for these seemingly abandoned concrete structures. If that were so there wouldn't be so many at the same stage that look so abandoned.

We wondered if it had something to do with tax laws (maybe you get a tax break if you have a building started) or inheritance laws or that somebody was pushing concrete in the area. Do you have any "concrete" information about why people start these buildings and don't finish them? There are really SO many in the south.

Bryan said...

Lyn and Anthony - I have heard that explanation also, but also that many properties are started without the proper permits and once the comune steps in things stop. I've also heard that since the mafia is heavy into the concrete business in the south they pressure some building.

Probably a mix of all of these, but still a blight in many areas.