Modernismo e engenharia hidráulica como estratégias de desenvolvimento: o caso das vias navegáveis do Vêneto em um novo estado italiano (1866-1966)

Francesco Vallerani


Surface freshwaters system management can be considered as one of the most relevant issues in an effectual organization of modern States. It follows that specific technocratic rhetoric have been spreading in order to promote the governance of a hydrographic network and water drainage and reclamation actually had the leading role in reinforcing the growing nationalism in all of Europe from the end of XIX century. Since late Middle Age the Veneto region was affected by Venice’s increasing interests in achieving a new hydraulic policy focusing on an overall fluvial network amelioration and in this perspective the improvement of navigation was undoubtedly one of the main goals. During the first decades of the Italian Kingdom (particularly since 1866) the expansion of larger and larger reclamation plans had fruitful relationships with water transport and irrigation improvement. At the end of XIX century, the Italian inland navigation became one of the pre-eminent issues of the national economic development, and particularly it was maintained that a good management of Venetian waterways could help lowland drainage and the reclamation of wetlands. Modernization operations actually began at the end of the Nineteenth century and developed even further after the first world war, in an atmosphere characterized by extensive plans of urban regeneration involving many Italian towns. During the second world war most of Italian infrastructures were heavily damaged and in the second post-war period, the economic recession did not allow a continuous and efficient maintenance of the waterway system in the Venetian inland. The decline of the waterways transports was followed by a functional decadence of some fluvial and canal landscapes, implying besides the loss of the symbolic and memorial values of Venetian waterscapes too. It was only during the last decades of the Twentieth century that a more mature consideration of the historical and cultural meaning of fluvial and urban landscapes developed. We are now dealing with a well defined hydrographic heritage and current times are actually ready for broadening the awareness of waterways with regard to their touristic and recreational value.

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