CROSSDEV. Il était une fois à Gibellina : histoire de Cretto di Burri


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This article was written by Francesca Napoli and Giulio Muscella, Students of CAST (Centre for Advanced Studies in Tourism of University of Bologna, our project’s Associated Partner) and involved in CROSSDEV’s activities in Sicily and abroad.


1.   The capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation, caused especially by compressive stress.

2.    An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.  

These are the definitions of the word “resilience”, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Under this perspective, the story of Gibellina (Sicily) and the Cretto di Burri (crack of Burri) is the perfect definition of resilience. It is the typical example of how misfortune in life can bring to a new beginning and how a meaningful masterpiece, from ruins and debris, can come into life. In fact, difficult moments can lead to a new Renaissance, as it is proven by the story of Gibellina.  

In 1968, a powerful earthquake hit the Belice’s Valley and the village of Gibellina. This event profoundly changed the shape of the territory. Especially because going back to previous life and recreating a new environment seemed almost impossible. However, Gibellina’s mayor, Ludovico Corrao, wanted to rebuild the territory through land art. Therefore, he decided to build a new village, 20 km far from the old town of Gibellina, in order to host the displaced people and he also invited architects and artists from all over the world to create pieces of art, in order to mold the image of the valley anew. Among the artists who joined the project, there were also the famous Italian artists and painters Alberto Burri, Leonardo Sciascia, Arnaldo Pomodoro and Mimmo Paladino. Thanks to the power of imagination, it was possible to find a new creative way to design the Gibellina landscape and to recover from disaster.

CROSSDEV team visiting Cretto di Burri on December 2020

As it is happening right now with the Covid-19 pandemia taking over, which has changed the shape of the world as we used to know it, we have to find new creative solutions and ways to cope with the forthcoming challenges that our society has to face. Many things are about to change and we have to be proactive, since investing is highly risky in this period, especially because the final outcome is not so predictable. In this scenario, the case history of Gibellina is a fitting example of how much it is important to carry on after a traumatic event. As a matter of fact, creativity and imagination are the most powerful weapons at our disposal, in order to design a new future.

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