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Hilde Lotz-Bauer
Culture in the time of apocalypse:
the future of memory

Italian versionA small town in Italy is waging a determined campaign to keep alive its traditions and for them to thrive in future times.

Scanno, dubbed the “borgo dei fotografi”, has mounted a unique display of images, costumes and crafts in Pescara, the largest town in Abruzzo, to further a bid for recognition of its traditional dress by UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity. 

L’Abito muliebre di Scanno. Il futuro della memoria
l to r: Luna Piccinini, Ernesto Di Renzo, Marcello Antonelli, Nicola Mattoscio, Cesidio Giansante, Maria Pia Silla, Corinna Lotz

On 29 September, a packed meeting heard impassioned calls for Scanno’s traditions to be projected into the future.

At the launch chaired by Nicola Mattoscio, president of the PescaraAbruzzo Foundation, Scanno councillor Cesidio Giansanti thanked Pescara for its support.  “Scanno became renowned thanks to famous photographers who captured its beauty, but they also achieved fame thanks to Scanno. We are here to share the costume in the future, but we cannot do this by ourselves.“ Giansanti was referring to photographers such as Thomas Ashby, M C Escher, Hilde Lotz-Bauer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mario Giacomelli and Gianni Berengo Gardin who immortalised Scanno during the 20th century.

Anthropologist Ernesto Di Renzo stressed the importance of citizens seeing themselves not as passive custodians but rather protagonists: “Tradition is the instrument with which we navigate today at a time of anguish and cultural apocalypse”.

Traditions were not just for festivals; instead, they contribute to a sense of our own presence and identity, Di Renzo added. He contrasted the dignity of Luna Piccinini, who stood alongside the platform wearing the black wool outfit with a silk apron, with the consumerist image projected by the film Barbie.

Ever since Italian and foreign travellers discovered hard-to-reach Scanno at the turn of the last century, Scanno gained a reputation for the iconic costumes of its female inhabitants. Its wedding outfit is considered one of the oldest in the world. But today only five local women continue to wear the local costumes on a daily basis and only two still have the complex skills involved in making them.

Maria Pia Silla, president of the FASTI foundation created to celebrate and preserve the costume for the future, explained that Scanno as a collective aspired to share the costume and its meaning with not only Abruzzo but Italy and the world.

Corinna Lotz, daughter of Hilde Lotz-Bauer, the first woman photographer to capture the individuality of Scanno women, speaking in Italian, said her mother had been attracted by the symbolism of the costume as projecting an independent role for women.

The exhibition, spread over two floors of the Fondazione Pescarabruzzo,  includes old and new photographs, jewellery, tombolo lace-making, re-imagining by Federica Silvani and Francesco Rotolo, and contemporary versions of the traditional dress by Liliana Spacone.

4 October 2023

Liliana Spacone, Corinna & Maria Pia Silla
in front of a Scanno photo by Hilde
Corinna with Alessio De Stefano of Piccola Biblioteca Marsicana in front of another photo by Hilde


PescaraL’abito muliebre di Scanno: Il Futuro della Memoria
runs until 17 December 2023 at
the Maison des Arts
Corso Umberto 1, 83 Pescara