Hands on the city
This photographic project, contrary to my usual practice, was accomplished over the course of a single morning, committing perhaps only an hour. A motorcycle ride, along the road that goes up Monte Pellegrino. It was completely accidental, in the sense that the idea was born there on the spot, observing the urban part of the landscape from the mountain.
That asphyxiated pile of buildings built since the late 1960s is really impressive, especially when seen from that perspective. It immediately reminded me of Francesco Rosi’s 1963 film “Le mani sulla città,” set in Naples.
The use of the telephoto lens certainly accentuated, dramatizing, the visual impact. However, the urban reality of Palermo after the “Sack of Palermo” is, unfortunately, this.
The term “Sack of Palermo” was coined in reference to the “Sack of Rome” in 1527, to emphasize the severity of the phenomenon’s impact on the city of Palermo and its population.
It was a phenomenon of building speculation that affected the city of Palermo in the second half of the 20th century, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. During that period, there was an unprecedented building boom, during which many landowners, entrepreneurs, and politicians sought to profit from the sale of developable land, often violating urban planning regulations and compromising the balance of the city’s urban fabric.
The “Sack of Palermo” caused the destruction of numerous green areas, important Art Nouveau villas, the elimination of historic neighborhoods, and the loss of the city’s cultural identity.
It is certainly true that the numerous housing developments remedied a pressing demand for housing due to the flight from the countryside and the consequent growth of major urban centers throughout Italy, but the reckless manner in which this was accomplished in Palermo certainly harmed the beauty of the city’s cultural heritage and its urban order.