Italy’s Fragile Beauty – The New York Times. Earthquakes are not the only threat to Italian beauty. Floods and landslides have become more frequent and destructive, since small farmers stopped tending the hillsides and unscrupulous real estate developers replaced them. Small, winding mountain roads — the umbilical cords of little communities across the country — are expensive to maintain, and some local authorities don’t even try. Depopulation has done the rest. Amatrice had already lost three-quarters of its inhabitants in a century — going from 10,000 to just 2,500. They emigrated, they went to Rome and other cities to find work.