The 2012 seismic sequence which hit the Po Valley (Districts of Ferrara, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Emilia- Romagna Region; Mantova, Lombardia Region; Rovigo, Veneto Region) caused 27 deaths, some hundreds of injured people, thousands of homeless, widespread failure of strategic and residential buildings, factories and infrastructures. Immediately after the first event, it was also evident that several cultural heritage constructions (churches, bell-towers, castles, and palaces) suffered collapse or severe damage, putting in danger a vast structural and mobile patrimony. This earthquake evidenced that the Po Valley is always prone to seismic risk, although the area has been included in the Italian seismic zonation only after 2003. This paper summarises the historic information, available in various catalogues and documents, about effects of past earthquakes on historic centres located in the affected area, providing highlighting examples as the Veronese 1117 catastrophe, and focussing on seismic events occurred in the Emilia-Romagna plain in the centuries. Moreover, the paper gives a description of the damage/collapse mechanisms observed in some heritage buildings located in various affected towns of Emilia- Romagna, surveyed by ENEA expert teams, supporting the Italian Civil Protection Department and the Regional Directorate for Cultural Heritage and Landscape of Emilia-Romagna. In particular, some results are shown about buildings investigated by using the prompt survey forms Chiese and Palazzi, providing a consistent amount of data useful to suggestions for future strengthening interventions.
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