BES - Benessere Equo e Sostenibile


Basic Concepts

In order to define the concept of Landscape and Cultural Heritage, it is convenient to start from the classical distinction (Biasutti, 1962) [1], between the two dimensions of landscape: “the sensitive or visual landscape consisting of what the eye can embrace, or if we wish, what is perceptible to all senses; a landscape that can be reproduced by a photograph (…) or by a picture of a painter or by the brief and short description of a writer”. The second dimension is related to the geographical landscape which is an abstract synthesis of the visible landscapes because it tends to detect the elements or features presenting the most common repetitions over a space which may vary in size, but which is in any case bigger than the one comprised in a sole horizon.”

The combination of Landscape and Cultural Heritage defining this domain can be summarized as follows: landscape is the sensitive landscape as defined by Biasutti, while “Cultural Heritage” is represented by the geographical landscape, whenever it is related to an historical value, together with other aspects of cultural heritage such as museums, monuments etc.

The sensitive landscape is related to individual experience, contributing to individual wellbeing in a so called “existential” sphere. The factors determining its influence on individual quality of life are imponderable and far from the mere sphere of aesthetic values. The affective and symbolic values bind to individual memory and day by day habits are maybe the most important ones. Everything is anyway filtered by the lens of subjective perception.

Geographical landscape, on the other hand, is settled by history in specific forms recognized by the community giving a particular identity to a region of physical space. According to the Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape, geographical landscape is defined as “a homogeneous part of territory whose features derive from nature, from human history or from their mutual interrelations”. In this sense, the landscape is an integral part of the Cultural Heritage and of the historical heritage of the community. The same definition is given by the Italian Constitution that binds the Landscape to the protection of the “National historical and artistic heritage” (art.9).

Specific attention must be paid to the feature of agricultural landscape defined as: “the form that man gives to natural landscape during the conscious and systematic agricultural activity and its purpose”[2]; The protection of agricultural landscape is also part of the strategic goals of National Strategic Plan for rural development of 2007–2013. The reason is related to the fact that the landscape “is a key resource with added value to the products with designation of origins, resulting in a key element for the development of tourism and for the biodiversity bind to the quality of the cultivated areas (...) and representing an aspect that characterizes the quality of life in the rural areas”[3].

Objective measures may be applied to the Landscape/Cultural Heritage thus defined, and can be referred to both the quantification and qualification of territorial supply and to the effectiveness of governance in the protection of the supply themselves.

In this sense, the degree of conservation of landscapes recognised as of historical value, equally to what happen for the consistency of the artistic and monumental heritage, is connected to the ability of a territory to represent a source of well–being for the community thanks to the richness of its cultural heritage and landscape.

However, the landscape is changing and changing should not be necessarily considered as worsening, and at the same time conservation should not be considered a positive value itself. The real value is the protection of traditional or historical landscapes for its benefits at different levels, documented by an extensive literature and all linked to the dimension of collective well-being: preservation of historical memory and territories identity, tourism’s promotion that creates richness and brings worth to local products, environmental protection and soil conservation. As demonstrated by active local associations, the protection of landscape is also an important factor of social gathering, and it is strongly linked to the quality of life.


[1] Biasutti R., Il paesaggio terrestre, Utet, Torino: 2a ed. 1962.

[2] Emilio Sereni (1996), Storia del paesaggio agrario italiano.

[3] Psn of rural development 2007-2013 (par. 1.2, title “Landscape”): “In recent decades, the Italian [rural] landscape has been affected by a progressive deterioration, which is compromising its quality. In the areas which are more dedicated to agricultural activity (…) there has been a spread of agro-systems (…) often efficient in economic terms, but fragile from an ecological point of view and negative for the landscape, because they are not representative of thelocal cultural identity (…).The acceleration of deterioration (...), lastly, is also connected to inappropriate policies, based on incentives and subsidies that did not take into account the conservation of cultural landscape and the impact of the undertaken actions (...).


Dimensions considered to represent the domain

In the domain representation several elements need to be considered: the contribution – positive, negative or neutral – of sensitive landscape to quality of life of individuals; the crucial relevance of art and culture for the growth of social, human and economic capital of the country; and the correlations with well-being of individuals related to forms of identification and sharing of the values of cultural heritage – including as integral part of the latter the geographic landscapes of historical value, seen as common goods contributing to personal and collective well-being.

To measure the contribution of sensitive landscape to quality of life subjective indicators of perception of values of sites or of their impoverishment/maintenance are used. For the second component the proposed measures are indicators of the endowment of goods and of the forms of protection guaranteed by public governance, these measures are used to assess how citizens consider these goods as common goods, well-being bearer, in which identify and for which endeavour to ensure the respect and protection for future generations.

To carry out the analysis, the territory of each region is divided into three distinct landscape areas: urban, rural and natural. A subset of “cross section indicators” including indicators considered relevant for all areas of survey domain is defined, while for rural and urban areas specific subset of indicators are defined in order to take into account the different nature of the phenomena. Indicators for natural areas are not proposed in consideration of the redundancy with those proposed for the Environment domain, because - according to the adopted approach – in the natural landscape environmental and landscape quality tend to coincide.

For urban areas territorial units of analysis coincide with the areas included in centres, residential areas and places of production, as mapped by Istat in the “Basi territoriali” of Census [4].

In rural areas agrarian regions are chosen as units of analysis [5]. This area is further divided into three "phases" corresponding to different developmental stages of rural areas: a central phase, corresponding to active and stable agricultural areas, and two transition phases, one towards the urban (areas attacked by urban sprawl, that is forms of widespread and low-density edification) and the other towards the uncultivated/natural (deserted agricultural areas in process of re-naturalization) identified according to the combined variations of scattered population (resident outside of central and inhabited areas) and of the exploited agricultural area (SAU) [6].


[4] The “basi territoriali” of Census are exhaustive cartographic bases of the national territory, updated every ten year, for the collection and dissemination of statistical information at sub-regional level; they divide the municipalities into homogeneous areas according to consistency and concentration of buildings insisting on the territory.

[5] The agrarian regions are about 800 groups of municipalities, contiguous and homogeneous for province, altitude and cultivation types.

[6] The areas in state of abandonment (transition rural> uncultivated) are those where there are negative changes both in scattered population and in UAA. The active agricultural areas are those where UAA is increasing and sparse population is in decline, or it is increasing less than proportionally compared to UAA. The areas eroded by urban sprawl (transition rural> urban) are those where scattered population is increasing and UAA is in decrease, or it is increasing less than proportionally compared to scattered population.


List of the best indicators

  1. Endowment of cultural heritage items: The number of archaeological sites, monuments and museums surveyed by the “Risk Map of Cultural Heritage” (an information system held by the Italian Ministry of Culture), per
  2. Current expenditure of Municipalities for the management of cultural heritage (museums, libraries and art galleries), per capita
  3. Illegal building rate: Ratio of the number of unauthorized buildings to the number of building permits issued by the Municipalities.
  4. Urbanization rate of areas subject to building restrictions by virtue of the Italian laws on landscape protection: Number of buildings realized after 1981 in areas subject to building restrictions by the “Galasso Law” (no. 431/1985, as integrated by the Cultural Heritage and Landscape Code – Legislative Decrees no. 42/2004, no. 157/2006 and n. 63/2008), per
  5. Erosion of farmland from urban sprawl: Percentage ratio of rural areas affected by urban sprawl [7] to the total of rural areas..
  6. Erosion of farmland from abandonment: Percentage ratio of abandoned rural areas [8] to the total of rural areas.
  7. Presence of historic rural landscapes: Percentage ratio of areas classified as such by the National Inventory of historic rural landscapes to the total area of the Region..
  8. Quality assessment of Regional programmers for rural development (PSRs), with regard to the landscape protection: Score assigned to the PSRs based on the adoption of measures of a potentially positive impact on the rural landscape, among those envisaged by the National Strategic Plan for Rural Development 2007-2013..
  9. Presence of Historic Parks/Gardens and other Urban Parks recognized of significant public interest: Percentage ratio of the area of parks and gardens classified as “historic” and/or “of a significant public interest” by the Legislative Decree no. 42/2004 to the total area of the provincial capital Municipalities.
  10. Conservation of historic urban fabric: Share of inhabited buildings realized before 1919 and in excellent or good state on the total number of building realized before 1919..
  11. People that are not satisfied with the quality of landscape of the place where they live: Proportion of regional population reporting that the landscape of the place where they live is affected by evident deterioration.
  12. Concern about landscape deterioration: Proportion of population reporting, among the environmental problems for which they express more concern, the decay of landscape due to overbuilding.


[7] Areas subject to urban sprawl: rural areas with increasing population and decreasing agricultural land.

[8] Areas subject to abandonment: rural areas with decreasing population and decreasing agricultural land.




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