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Crossing the River Magra in the “land of broken bridges”: risk in early nineteenth-century travel narratives

Balzaretti, Rossano

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On the 25 October 2011 the River Magra in the far east of the Italian region of Liguria flooded with catastrophic effects, killing thirteen people and causing millions of euros in damage. Managing such an extreme episode is very hard, as local policy makers know well because the Liguria region is currently experiencing regular flood events. Serious floods in this region have often occurred seasonally in October and November as the result of extremely intense rainfall. While everyone can agree that rivers in flood present real environmental risks to human life it is important to appreciate that risk can also be in the mind. Understanding how people deal with environmental risk in this respect can help inform current policy, for example what tactics might best be used to persuade people to leave their homes when flood events are forecast. This article shows how reading a series of reports by early nineteenth-century travellers who tried to cross the Magra in flood reveals that perceptions of risk had a considerable impact on their behaviour in the face of a clear environmental problem. Furthermore, because these written accounts were consumed by a reading public back home which enthusiastically embraced narratives of travel, especially ones which dealt with what has come to be known as ‘dark tourism’ (i.e. delighting in danger), we can learn how telling stories might still be an important or even necessary part of successful risk management in the future.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 14, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 1, 2019
Publication Date Feb 1, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 22, 2018
Publicly Available Date Aug 2, 2020
Journal Journal of Risk Research
Print ISSN 1366-9877
Electronic ISSN 1466-4461
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 9
Pages 1101-1115
Keywords Liguria, River Magra, risk, travel, narrative, flooding
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Risk Research on 1 February 2019, available online:


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