In the wealthy, picturesque Italian town of Cortina, north of Venice, a centuries old system of collective property keeps the local natural resources protected and the tourism industry from running amok — but it also keeps women from inheriting and controlling land.
Run by leaders of the 1,200 “historic families” in the area, Regole Ampezzane translates roughly to “the commons of Cortina d’Ampezzo,” a medieval system that dates back to the 11th century. Within the Regole collective, rights to use the land and become members of its governing body pass from father to sons. There are exceptions if a family has no male heirs, but they restrict women from marrying outside the community if they want to keep their status.
In April, the women of Cortina formally requested an end to the male-dominated system. In an assembly vote, a majority agreed, but not quite the two-thirds majority required to pass the change.
There are mixed feelings about changing the Regole, from men and women alike. While systems like it are still only in place in scattered communities in rural Italy, there is a fondness for the protections against unbridled progress they seem to bring and the feelings of community independence they foster. Some fear that changes will bring scrutiny and ultimately, a potential collapse, as these entities likely wouldn’t stand up to modern Italian law. Despite those fears, most of the other remaining instances of such systems have indeed changed their policies to be more inclusive of women in recent years.
Read the full story at The Atlantic.