Joint research project

Identification and Interpretation of Cultural Route: the Example of Maritime Silk Road

Project leaders
Laura Genovese, Haiming Yan
Agreement
CINA - CACH - Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage
Call
CNR/CACH triennio 2019-2021 2019-2021
Department
Social sciences and humanities, cultural heritage
Thematic area
Social sciences and humanities, cultural heritage
Status of the project
Extended
Report for renewal
joint-report-genovese-haiming-signed.pdf

Research proposal

The culture, in its broadest sense, and the territory are increasingly the binomial on which to leverage to define original visions of sustainable economic growth, i.e. based on the development of tourism attentive not only to economic implications, but also social, cultural and environmental aspects, following the most up-to-date concepts of sustainable tourism.
A strategy of this kind can be decisive for countries such as Italy and China where archaeological sites, monuments, museums, libraries and archives, historical city core and cities of culture represent a widespread heritage on which to base the future both cultural and economic, if properly integrated and enhanced. Moreover, the integration of this vast and varied heritage, from the less-known to the most famous sites in a territorial network context, can represent the most effective strategy to diversify the tourist offer, creating new segments and niches and making it more competitive on the global tourist market, thus relaunching local economies in a sustainable perspective.
In this perspective, in recent years, the concept of cultural route has drawn much attention. However, the major challenge for this type of serial heritage is to identify the values of particular sites and the integrated value interpretation for the whole. Each site has its own historical and cultural connotations, whereas as a serial heritage, a systematic justification of value should be developed. Therefore, it is important to find an approach to the identification and interpretation of cultural routes. What are the current practices? What are the values that could be addressed for both particular sites and the whole serial heritage? How could we create a set of guidelines or principles for the interpretation of cultural route?
From this point of view, the Cultural Routes of the European Council can offer an excellent example on this topic, by showing how the integrated enhancement, on a large territorial scale, of multiple tangible and intangible values, has the effect of stimulating sustainable economic growth, that is, respectful of the human rights, democracy, cultural and religious diversity and openness to intercultural dialogue.
These fundamental principles have inspired this proposal. Starting from the results achieved by the comparison between the two partner countries within the previous bilateral project, CNR-CACH "Valorisation-Tourism-Participation: Developing alternative integrated solutions for less promoted historic sites - 2016-2018", and based on a long-term experience in the field of conservation, management and enhancement of cultural heritage, this new project aims to apply the multidisciplinary expertise of the two research teams, in order to define a strategy suitable for the sustainable development of the Maritime Silk Road as cultural Route.
In particular, the project aims at identify methods and tools for interpreting and enhancing its components, analyzing the effect of current practices, and proposing a better approach to the interpretative scheme. By comparing with Italian cases as the coastal heritage sites, the study will attempt to create a set of guidelines to the enhancement of maritime-related heritage, including both popular tourism sites and less promoted sites. Finally, it will establish a website for the Maritime Silk Road sites in China and possibly the Italian sites, to present important values and some interactive platforms for the public to communicate.
In this perspective, the comparison between the Chinese case and the Italian one, will be very challenging. In fact, ICVBC has coordinated many project aimed at the creation of cultural routes and the evaluation of standards of conservation of the maritime serial cultural heritage. Two main cases will be compared, on one hand the Riviera of Ulysses case in Lazio Region, and the Coastal sight Towers in Tuscan Region. The first case is based on a project funded by the Lazio Region between 2010-2012, based on a partnership with private enterprises and public Institutions, and focused on the coastal and inland areas between S. Felice Circeo and Minturno towns, so called Ulysses Riviera. The offer had a specific tourist purpose, aiming to communicate the landscape exceptionality and the richness and variety of the widespread heritage, to promote the development of a cultural and sustainable tourism. It was characterized as multi-scale and multipurpose, inspired to principles of the Eu Cultural Routes, and led to the creation of different thematic Routes and digital tools for the communication and enhancement of the whole Ulysses Riviera. This results make actually part of the regional tourist offer and could represent a best practice on how to apply European cultural Routes guidelines to a minor territorial scale case, i.e. not transnational. The second Italian case study, is based on a research project still ongoing, funded by Tuscany Region. It has been considering some ancient coastal sight towers, that were distinctive serial elements of the Mediterranean coastal area, having military functions in the past centuries, and still strongly characterizing the coastal landscape. The project has examined the building materials and types, evaluating methods and tools for the sustainable maintenance in maritime environment in order to ensure accessibility, security, authenticity and economic sustainability of phisical conservation. Furthermore, it had highlighted the harmoniously dialogue between the serial heritage and the surrounding environment, thus making evident that is not possible intervening on a single tower without indirectly transforming its context and the general sight, having an impact on their whole cultural and identity value. Consequently, this project can offer the basis for evaluating best practices for the integrated conservation and maintenance of serial heritage.

Research goals

The exchange of good practices among partners aims to identify transferable sustainable approaches and tools to promote serial heritage in coastal areas, in particular those along the Maritime Silk Road.
In this perspective, through a critical and scientific approach this cooperation will address a twofold challenge: on one hand, to evaluate solutions to ensure the accessibility, security and physical maintenance of cultural assets along coastal areas, by defining best practices for its sustainable use, also mitigating the anthropic risk on cultural heritage conservation.
On the other, to identifying solutions and tools for interpreting and enhancing its components, analyzing the effect of current practices, and proposing a better approach to the interpretative scheme. By comparing with Italian cases as the coastal heritage sites, the study will attempt to create a set of guidelines to the enhancement of maritime-related heritage, including both popular tourism sites and less promoted sites.
Finally, the project aims to identify adequate communication solutions and tools to promote the Maritime Silk Road sites and communicate project results.

Last update: 15/11/2019