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Planning report during CISVA's founding ceremony (G. Scianatico - Otranto, Italy - 23 April 2005)

The programme of our day, dedicated to the foundation of the CISVA, constitutes an important occasion to reflect upon the network of relationships, on cultural and historical reasoning which tie the populations of the area together with strong memories, but not only this but all that can come about on future horizons with the building of a common cultural peace in the Adriatic basin.
This is the fundamental reason for our project , a research project , a development of the territory and why we are going ahead , thanks to the funding from the Interreg Interadriatic Program, a total of eight Universities from Italy and the Balkans all directly together with the Regione Puglia (the Puglian region), and who in only a few months have brought about the first really important result the founding of the Study Centre. A Centre which will be able to establish stable and independent operations even after the two year funding comes to an end and which will connect to an Interadriatic Network, imminently up and running with Local Institutions/Bodies and Companies on both shores, for an integrated tourism/cultural and territorial development.
The reason behind my speech is therefore that of calling to your attention and of illustrating in concrete terms our intercultural work taking place in the area, one of many possibilities, both in our imaginations and the will of everyone to put it into action.
Comparing ones sense of belonging to a common Adriatic identity is the first task for which today the community has been called ( above all the University community) on both shores.
All of which , beginning with the awareness that is necessary in strong reconfirmation of the Humanistic Faculties, essential in the opening of intercultural understanding, in other words the recognition of common roots and diversity, to enable the building of a cultural sharing of differences, giving ontologically foundations and a basis for the process of building peace and unity. What remains is the same dialectic identity and differences that taking into consideration such a wide and articulate area and of which is founded on our sense of belonging to a common European patria.
Especially a trans frontier identity , like our own , founded on common elements for example climate, landscapes, the opening of marine horizons, of artistic and historical traditions, all interwoven by time but brought together by the waters of that great lake which is the Adriatic. Even with greater tension of discovery, the relations between each other, the restlessness and together in the rising of a utopian vision. From one shore to the other, and at the same time founded on multiplicity, in other words based on the articulate richness of anthropology, folklore, of mentality, religion and politics, architecture and literature, of diverse civilisations, which need to be recovered and then evaluated for their own specific identity.
I would like to say that “the other” ( for example if we think about the difference between East and West , in which the Adriatic coasts are the outposts, one gets the idea of an evident sense of superiority) “the other” which here is also “the same”, a population of the same sea , of the same fruit trees, of the same peasant food, of the same city profiles which are reflected in the Adriatic itself.
For me this seems, today the specific vocation of our trans frontier area, to bridge these two worlds, between two civilisations which in reality are not so far apart, from the current political and military tensions which appear, and can be recalled in the role of the thoughtful Arab in the Medieval Christian ( meaning for all the name Dante), or in the signs made by that of architecture on the face of many western cities.
East and West have always been dreamt about , compared one with the other, through bitter conflicts, peaceful relations of scholars and merchants, having built together, starting from their own differences a modern culture in which we are a part of.
(Marco Polo is a symbol of just this, to come back to the theme of travelling , the research aim of the Study Centre)
It just this the reinforcing of a trans frontier identity and the reciprocal respect of differences which reflect our project named “Adriatic Travellers. Writings and travel routes” which unite the countries of Bosnia Erzegovina, ( the University of Banja Luka ) of Croazia (the University of Zadar ) of Serbia (the University of Novi, and very soon the partnership with the University of Montenegro) of Albania (the University of Tirana), with the Italian Regions of Puglia, (the Universities of Lecce and Bari ) of Molise (the University of Molise) and of Friuli Venezia Giulia (the University of Trieste), overcoming old and more recent conflicts, in order to develop a common research on Adriatic travel writings and the correlated development of tourism, connecting University and Territory, counting on the progressive admission of other countries, Universities and individual academics.
The work of the Centre will include the individualisation and the cataloguing, the reorganisation and evaluation of a patrimony which is divided into literary texts, documentation on the writings of the Adriatic tour which are currently lost, largely have been ignored or not taken into consideration so therefore not recognised or not identifiable in as much as they are elements belonging to a specific identity of the Adriatic area in which the population has a rich reserve of collective memories.
A virtual library will be created , containing texts, studies and archives of the Adriatic tour ( eight universities are already working together on this) which will be connected to an Internet portal which will be the main instrument of action and diffusion of the Centre, and which will link the scientific community, the tourist industry, Local Bodies and Institutions and the potential users of the Trans frontier population, of researchers and tourists.
Research and Cataloguing is also envisaged (both in loco and on the Net) based both on books and manuscripts from the library system found on both Adriatic shores. Documents on travel writings ( for example letters, guides, diaries, Embassy/ambassadors reports, tales and travellers odes, images and reportages etc.) starting with a “mapping out” of both public and private libraries in the territory of the Centre, but not limiting things just to this, the indexing and the study of the same material will be organised diachronically by century and by type of journey ( from pilgrimages to the grand tour, to stays in spas, to archaeological expeditions, to routes taken by merchants to political and cultural exchanges etc.) Arriving at a definition of the route and the type of journey through the centuries as a trans frontier experience a vehicle for anthropological exchanges, of artistic and cultural, a reciprocal flow, passing on the research findings to the digital library, conferences, exhibitions and publications.
At the same time, based on the literary wealth left by past travellers and the larger amount of travellers tales and odes individualised, the Centre will provide a fundamental support of ideas and the launch of innovative country/cultural routes, reflected in the development of sustainable tourism, respect for the environment, making use of advanced Information Technology. We will proceed with the Inter Adriatic Network with public and private subjects linked to the Centre, with the construction of travel itineraries re tracing the steps of ancient travellers, according to the diverse tourism targets.
The organic connection of the same programme will be articulated in works, including training courses of a specialised nature for academics and researchers of travel writings, editorial courses on line, higher education courses in socio cultural tourism ( for this last part we have presented , in collaboration with other partners a project relating to the law 84/01 on the Balkans, which if approved will consent to the formation at Trebinje experts in the sector of Balkan countries of the Centre, to become involved in our Inter Adriatic network). In fact we hope to promote projects so called “a cascata” (waterfall effect), in order to finance our scientific work and then turn to development.
This very same development of tourism integrated into the area , will construe a common image of the ADRIATIC TOUR, favourably contributing to the organic cohesion process between the internal populations, redressing in time what was mentioned earlier the bridging of frontiers between western Europe and the eastern countries of the Mediterranean. The prospective with which the Centre, on a European basis intends to operate is the opening up of the Mediterranean, both for historical traditions and for political choice, an incentive towards a peace process and international developments. The Adriatic is part of an even bigger sea. A great part of material on travellers tales which currently is under examination, present travel itineraries that leave from the Adriatic to reach long and multiple vectors, ports and places of the Oriental Mediterranean, from Turkey, to Greece, to the Holyland and even further south.. Therefore included in the things for widening our prospective and horizons in our research and intervention. It means the joint study of modes, made safe by the specifications of our Adriatic identity configuration, in order to go ahead with our work at the Centre, which could become the primary nucleus, the first cell of a vast aggregation in the Mediterranean direction.
So it involves, now it is clear, an ambitious project, which will only be achieved only if it is able to become our common project, what I mean to say is to all of those, beginning with all those present today , from the countries of the area, and those from outside, all those interested in this type of study and the building of a peace prospective which has been turned about.
The aims of the same lie also in the informing others of our initiatives, colleagues, young academics and students, all those present today have an interest in this work and the way in which it is carried out. We began as a small group of Italians and comparatives, and who have already grown to include colleagues from other disciplines. However, it indispensable the participation in the historical research, of academics in literature, of archaeology, of history of art, landscape academics, of antiques, of map making and many other different sectors. All in the same way is the importance of the involvement of the world of school and associations in order to spread the word in the local community, and more importantly to bring up the younger generation with a community spirit based on the memories of a time gone by. The Study Centre will be able to grow and achieve its aims if it is able to share the programme as widely as possible and involve and motivate as many as possible.   
Giovanna Scianatico                                   

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