Amatrice in Focus

Amatrice Ruins

Earthquakes and Photography—Recording the Past, Planning the Future


A powerful earthquake in August 2016 was a human tragedy that also dramatically changed the face of the town of Amatrice in Central Italy. The town is now deserted. What remains of the variety and richness of its cultural heritage? 

The aim of this online digital exhibition, hosted by the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History, is to find relationships between historical photographs and pictures taken after the earthquake. It recognizes the role of photography in post-catastrophic contexts not only as a record of what disappeared, but also as an indispensable tool for reconstruction.


This research project began a few months after the earthquake, with a workshop hosted by the Bibliotheca Hertziana in autumn 2016. The idea of channeling the results into a digital exhibition took shape within the International Observatory for Cultural Heritage at the Italian Academy, during the Fellowship of Francesco Gangemi. It testifies to the extraordinary efforts of Gangemi, Rossana Torlontano, and Valentina Valerio to share what they learned during their research on Amatrice’s cultural heritage and on cultural heritage conservation for earthquake-risk zones more generally.


Francesco Gangemi is an art historian and a former researcher at the Kunsthistorisches Institut Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut and at the Bibliotheca Hertziana; he was a Fellow at the Italian Academy in 2017.
Rossana Torlantano teaches History of Modern Art at the Università “G. D’Annunzio” in Chieti–Pescara.
Valentina Valerio is an art historian at the Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali di Roma.

View the complete digital exhibition 

In English:
In Italian:
In German: 

Digital exhibitions of the Italian Academy

This digital exhibition is supported and co-hosted by the Italian Academy, as are these other digital exhibitions:

The Ancient City of Tharros: Rich Tombs and Extensive Ruins from Punic and Roman Times

The Giant Heroes of Mont'e Prama: Recovering Ancient Sardinian Heritage

Digital Serlio Project