The necessity of culture|The Economist

In Italy, until Renzi and, particularly under Berlusconi, culture was a word not used in polite company and political circles. Berlusconi preferred bling to ancient ruins. Italy has, for decades – not to say for two millennia – squandered a cultural treasure which is so bountiful, that there is still too much of it. From right to left, when you talk about investing in the future and to create jobs, its cultural heritage isn’t even considered. Building a large port and refinery across from Venice, routing gigantic ocean liners through its fragile canals is considered essential to create jobs and well-being, ignoring the fact that its appeal comes exclusively from its neglected monuments, not from its refinery or industrial port. The same is repeated all around the peninsula, not least in Rome which is so full of monuments that vast swathes of its Roman ruins are covered by tarmac, just to permit traffic through the city centre. In any other European country, each stone would end up in a museum or, at least sheltered, while in Rome cars park against columns, dustbins bang daily against bas-reliefs and smog corrodes ancient ruins and churches alike. Presumably somebody, someday, must have said that preserving the monuments and giving access to museums, which are often closed for years for works or because of lack of funds, would actually bring valuable tourism and create jobs – but I don’t recall hearing it.

 

Europe’s shared history should be treasured, not ignored

Source: The necessity of culture

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