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The Cagli Media Project
Institute for Education
in International Media
Andrew Ciofalo, Director

By Chanel Grundy

On June 16, 1944, the last train left the Cagli station. Shortly afterward, the Germans bombed the Fabriano-Pergola line, destroying tracks, bridges, and tunnels and cutting off the major connection to this remote hill town. Though Cagli cleaned up the debris, the railway was never rebuilt and the mountains around the city have kept it relatively isolated. As a result, Cagli remains much the way it was half a century ago, even as global communication and technology have changed the rest of the world.

At 70, Tormino Tavianucci can remember the Cagli before World War II and says that while new buildings have sprung up around the fringes of the town, the historic center has changed little from when he was a child: centuries-old homes passed down from generation to generation; narrow, cobblestone streets; family-owned shops; and small clusters of people gathered in the piazza, sharing the news of the day. There is no movie theater, and people still look to the 19th century opera house for entertainment.

“In the 1950s people left Cagli for fear of no work and the lack of farming,” says Tavianucci, who worked in other countries laying highway but has resettled back in his hometown. “Most returned because of the roots planted here. Tradition will always be the same here; we remodel old houses and keep a traditional way of living.”

Mario Carnali, who has lived in Cagli all his life, owns several properties in the city and is hoping he can later pass them down to his 19-year-old son, Francesco. This year he plans to finish remodeling one of them, the childhood home of Gaetano Lapis, an 18th century artist.

“Traditionally, children stay home until 25 or 30 years of age, when they are ready to marry,” says the elder Carnali, who lived with his parents until his mother died in 2005. “There is a law here that after your parents pass, the children divide the house and its contents, unless a ‘promise’ or will was created.”

However, some citizens worry that there won’t be enough young people left to claim these properties. For every 100 people who die in Cagli, only 60 are born, Carnali says, and young people are leaving to find work elsewhere because of the difficulties they have starting businesses in Cagli. There are more ‘for sale’ signs in the city than ever before.

Still, some youth eventually returnfor the traditional lifestyle Cagli offers.

“Deep-rooted traditions are still alive,” Carnali says. “People are coming back because of the culture. It’s something you get exposed to, and you never let it go.”

Luigi Boccarini, a local locksmith, says he values these traditions. “Regardless of any small changes, I can still go to the piazza and appreciate the same characters I did as a child,” says Boccarini. “It is the people here that keep this place going – the older man who hums the same song, the younger woman who drinks a beer every day around the same time, and the new traditions and customs the youth bring are everything I love.”

Bed and Breakfast in Cagli


Photos By - Rebecca Albert
Video By - Sarah Sullivan
Designed By - Michael Paine