Postcard from... Rome


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The Independent Online


It’s not clear whether it’s an exercise in buck passing, giving power to the people – or a bit of both. But officials in charge of restoring Italy’s precious culture heritage have given the public the chance to decide which antiquities or works of art should be saved first.

The Culture Ministry chose eight works from across the country which are badly in need of repair. They ranged from an ancient Roman marble horse to Renaissance paintings by Raphael and Perugino. The  art-loving public was asked to vote on a dedicated Facebook page for the work they felt most deserved to be restored.

“Italy needs help restoring its art and monuments,” ministry official Anna Maria Buzzi said. “Ticket sales alone are not enough to completely fund their upkeep.” 

But some observers say neither the government nor its citizens should be choosing which precious objects to save and which to neglect given that Italy earns so much in tourism from its arts an antiquities.

France, which has rather less to preserve and restore, spends 1 per cent of its GDP on culture compared with only 0.2 per cent in Italy. Restoration experts and engineers frequently note that even economically hamstrung Greece does a better job of caring for its antiquities, despite the economic crisis.

Perugino’s painting Madonna and Child won the Facebook vote. It’s not clear what will happen to the other seven works of art. What is certain is that there are many more in need of attention.