Vol. 10 No. 1 (2022): Territories and power, a two-way relationship

Nonantola agrarian 'Partecipanza': From 'another way of owning' to 'a new form of self-government'

Sergio De La Pierre
Independent researcher and author in Social science, Milan
Nonantola, an ancient photo depicting works in 'Partecipanza'.
Published March 2, 2022
  • Nonantola,
  • 'partecipanza',
  • common goods,
  • shared management,
  • self-government
How to Cite
De La Pierre, S. (2022). Nonantola agrarian ’Partecipanza’. Scienze Del Territorio, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.13128/sdt-13413


The Municipality of Nonantola (Modena, Italy) has hosted for almost 1,000 years the agrarian ‘Partecipanza’, a shared area of ​​760 hectares today, result of a donation from the Abbey dating back to 1058. Through very complex historical events, this common good, different from a ‘civic use’ or a collective property, is still used by a part of the population where each “participant”, with an allotment every 12 years, assumes the responsibility for the economic use of a part attributed to him with periodic rotation. From the medieval era, in which its use was partly farming partly ‘woody’, since the nineteenth century it passed to a mainly agricultural use, but with the rise of the postindustrial era it experienced an ‘ecological turning point’ not only with the forest rebirth, but also with enhancement and fruition projects in the direction of an ‘environmental education’ which now affects the entire population, including immigrants. Relations with the Municipality are very close, and allude to innovative forms of self-government and widespread socio-territorial responsibility that make Nonantola an exemplary case of participatory democracy.


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