Italy's abundance of heritage sites leads to indifference





As director-general of the heritage department of Italy's culture ministry, Roberto Cecchi must choose his words carefully. The latest cuts in the budget approved last month were not so much unfair, he ventures, as "insufficiently considered".

Unlike Spain, Italy is cutting from an extraordinarily low existing level of support for its heritage. A country sprinkled with aqueducts and amphitheatres, medieval piazzas and renaissance palazzos devotes far less of its budget to their conservation than others with less to boast.

According to the latest comparative figures from the OECD, from 2006, Italy devoted only 0.8% of its public spending to culture and leisure, putting it 22nd on a list of 27 countries for which statistics were available. France, like Spain, spent almost twice as much.

"Italy has never spent enough on culture," says Cecchi. "France has 20 national museums. Italy has 400. In France, there are 25,000 protected buildings. Here, there are between 350,000 and 400,000."...



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