Mapping Territorial Fragilities, Cross-Border Cooperation and Resilience in Italian Border Areas. Insights from the 'Italian Borderscapes After 2020' Project


  • Alice Buoli Politecnico di Milano
  • Raffaella Coletti CNR ISSIRFA
  • Ingrid Kofler Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
  • Isabella Traeger Politecnico di Milano


borderscapes, territorial fragilities, resilience, cross-border governance and planning, Italian border areas




The paper introduces and discusses initial research findings from the "Italian Borderscapes After 2020" project, a two-year initiative supported by the European Union – NextGenerationEU and the Italian Ministry of University and Research. The project seeks to explore the challenges faced by Italian border areas in the wake of various crises, encompassing socio-economic, humanitarian, ecological, and health-related issues, notably the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rather than characterizing these regions only as "border areas" or "peripheries," the paper adopts the term "borderscapes" to address the complex entanglement and "constellations" of spaces, relations, and practices that shape these territories. The main objective is to map, analyze, and comprehend the complex interplay of both existing and emerging re-bordering, de-bordering, and cross-bordering processes along and across Italy's borders, especially before and after the 2020 pandemic.
The project focuses on three case studies involving Italian national borders (Italy-France, Italy-Austria, and Italy-Slovenia), providing a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by cross-border communities and territories. This approach allows for a comparative overview of different border areas, related transboundary dynamics, and cross-border spatial planning frameworks and governance approaches.

The intersection between borderscapes and "inner areas" represents a novel field for investigating socio-spatial transitions prompted by pressing social, environmental, and health-related issues in these territories. Thus, Italian borderscapes offer prominent sites to explore the possibility of combining mixed and interdisciplinary methods both in terms of analysis and interpretation of data (ranging from policy analysis, socio-demographic surveying, visual production, and cartographic representation), as well as exploring cross-border, relational development strategies and planning scenarios, grounded into place-based, local development initiatives. This exploration envisions diversified trans-local drivers of resilience.

Drawing on the expertise of a multidisciplinary team, including urban planners, geographers, and social scientists, the paper presents the project’s early results in the three study areas.