Preserving Cultural Heritage for All

Tradition flows through Irpinia like the waters of the Ufita or the Ofanto— it is just as much a part of the area’s history  as its own natural landscape. For Valentina Taccone and Nunzio Gaeta, preserving that cultural heritage in a way to reach modern audiences has become a passion. Their latest project, Etn.ia, plays on the word “ethnicity,” bringing people to a fuller understanding of what it means to be from Irpinia and how the region’s traditions can, and should be preserved for everyone, with the ultimate goal of encouraging the area’s young people to stay as well as to encourage tourism. In this week’s post, Valentina Taccone shares the vision for Etn.ia.

What is ETN.IA and how can people best use the site?

Etn.ia is a communications project by two people, myself and Nunzio Gaeta, where we have photos, videos and text all on a web-based platform. We listened to and tried to preserve the stories of the people we met, as each one is special. Every person represented on the site– whether that’s the people who live in Irpinia’s towns, local artists, artisans who practice trades that are falling by the wayside, etc.; all of these people were chosen thanks to their specific characteristics that make up our area’s rich heritage. This act of historic preservation is done via our multimedia platform so that it could be shared easily  via our website:

The past is history and history is the cultural heritage of all of humanity. To reinforce this sense of belonging is to leave  an invaluable heritage that must be preserved. — Valentina Taccone

Could you tell us how the idea for ETN.IA came about?

Etn.ia was born from the desire of two thirtysomethings who knew they didn’t want to leave their home region, despite the difficulties that exist in Southern Italy. The site is our attempt to explain, in an immediate and new way, the feelings and motives that inspire us to stay here in Irpinia. It is the narrative voice of a land that has been beaten by emigration, a land that has strong culture and traditions, as well as a strong identity and identifying values.

Why is a project like this so important?

This project brings to light the importance of a territory that has all of its cards in order to live out its artistic and cultural heritage, in all forms. It is a work that, through its very nature, is in direct contrast to emigration and criticism against the Province of Avellino and the entire region, with a detailed territorial analysis by Mater.ia, an association that works to promote the region on a touristic/territorial basis. The partnership between myself and Nunzio Gaeta, with the support of Cybear, a marketing and communications agency in Avellino, and Mater.ia will help bring about activities, events, and even studies that are all designed to help revitalize the region and strengthen the local network of all who wish to recognize the area’s value.

Do you have a favorite story that you have preserved via ETN.IA?

I honestly could say that they are all my favorites! Everyone has a story, everyone is unique. Some stories arrive in a direct way, meaning that they are expressed clearly. For other stories, sometimes you have to really dive in past a person’s possible reserved nature or even beyond memories that can sometimes be bitter and, therefore, hard to tell. Other stories can be so emotional that they take your breath away.

Why is it important for Irpinia to maintain its ties to its past?

The past is history and history is the cultural heritage of all of humanity. To reinforce this sense of belonging is to leave  an invaluable heritage that must be preserved. To be “territorial” is a sentiment, it’s an adjective that should naturally follow “I am.”

Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Campania and Irpinia are places that deserve to be preserved and promoted because of their rich value. We need to wake up the sense of belonging and to find ways to get people to remember just how special it is– so that our province can then become a must-see place to visit and to live.

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