We often forget that Italy has one of the major artistic and cultural heritages in the world, as well as the largest number of artistic and cultural monuments declared Humanity Heritage by UNESCO. Besides, there are fifty Italian sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. From the north to the south, Italy is an immense treasure with 95 thousand monumental churches, 40 thousand fortresses and castles, 30 thousand historical homes with four thousand gardens, 36 thousand archives, libraries and cultural sites, 20 thousand historical centers, 5,600 museums and archaeological areas, 1,500 convents. The cultural and artistic heritage could become for the country, what oil currently represents in the Middle East.
That is to say, it should become the country’s “raw material” to consume and export: Italy’s first industry. But it is not. Awareness of this great opportunity is missing both on a local and on a national level. There is also lack of political will to invest a lot more resources in promoting more effectively this sector. Besides, the country lacks the ability to ”play in team”, as it was recently stressed by the President of the Italian Republic, Mattarella, as he pointed out this aspect of the Italian character which represents one of the county’s greatest weaknesses. We have been offered an example of it by the meetings organized by the trade unionists of the Pompeii and Colosseum workers who kept for hours thousands of tourists behind the sites’ closed gates. The government was right to provide a rule that puts them on the same level with the workers of essential public services. Because another thing that Italy is missing, at the moment, is exactly a change of mind-set: we should leave aside individualism in view of an evolutionary turn.
If to the imagination and creativity that characterize Italians were added quality of life and, Italy could become the first country in Europe and not only. Tourists who despite everything continue to appreciate our historical and cultural heritage, help Italy by guaranteeing their constant presence. During the first half of 2015, it is especially in the South that were recorded many tourists: from January to June, in fact, visitors have increased by 7.5%, which means 307,471 units more, whereas the income of the museums registered a of 17.4%. The growth of the South may be incited also by the National Operational Program (PON) that offers 491 million euros for culture and the south (in particular to Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily).
It is clear that, in this scenario, a drastic increase of quality must be made also by the system of education in general, especially in university training. It becomes strategically important to invest in the development of professional figures that can operate at the highest levels in the field of cultural heritage. But what Italy needs, is more equality between the north and the south of the country. From an Almalaurea survey it results that employment rate is of 52,5% among the graduates in the North and 35% in the South; whereas a year after graduation, young people in the North have a salary that is 24% higher than that of their southern colleagues. And, still in the South, Universities are grappling with a sharp decrease of the number of enrolled students.
These data should make us reflect. Italy needs to invest more in terms of employment availability in its artistic heritage and work to define more efficient school orientation, capable of addressing the students of secondary schools towards new opportunities offered by the labour market. Italy needs courage and foresight to understand that culture can be the country’s new beginning.