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3 Cultural Treasures Threatened By Italy’s Debt (Slideshow)

3 Cultural Treasures Threatened By Italy’s Debt (Slideshow)
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Italy’s economy is the third-largest in Europe and the country is the fourth-biggest tourist destination in the world after France, the U.S. and Spain. But with debt totaling €1.9 trillion ($2.5 trillion) and the government having introduced three packages of austerity measures in one year, funding for the arts is in short supply.

Agence France-Presse (via Raw Story) reports that only 0.21 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product is allotted to culture. That’s €1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) that has to get partitioned out for keeping archaeological sites intact and providing for contemporary artists and their work. Both the La Scala opera house and Piccolo Teatro in Milan had their budgets cut by €17 million euros ($22.4 million) last year.

Some analysts predict that the loss to Italy’s economy could be “permanent.” The Wall Street Journal reports that sales of foreign cars had fallen 21% in the first quarter, as Italians face higher income taxes, higher property taxes and a value-added tax increase.

As writer (of The Name of the Rose) and professor Umberto Eco says,

“Something isn’t working. We haven’t learnt how to make money from our national culture.”


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Photo of the Colosseum by debs-eye

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8:49PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Yep, cut off the hand that feeds you.

6:20PM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

everything needz preserving.

7:54AM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

The government has a clear responsibility to support these treasures and they should find a way to do it.

1:31PM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

These places need saving- maybe an international effort?

12:22PM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

preserve these sites!

11:23AM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

One of the best things about my job is that I get to visit Italy regularly. I love it.
I tell my kids, if you want an interesting yet cushy job, be an archeologist. I see groups of them all over Italy from Trieste to Rome. Lots of fresh air, they have a great time too, always cheerful, they seem. More than that, they are helping to promote Italy. Conserve it and discover more secrets.
I hope their work isn't destroyed by right-wing budget-cutting.

11:59PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

Risking some of your biggest tourist attractions due to budget concerns seems poor planning. Don't they add to the overall economy?

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11:48PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

I got so upset when the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas very wise mother put it back in perspective for me - "they're just built by man and as such can be done again , worry more about us destroying rain forests and living complex ecosystems...we haven't yet become smart enough to recreate anything like that."
She was right .

10:31PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

I noticed a sick starving cat, probably full of parasites, neglected, alone in front of this national treasure. It's a living being and it isn't cared for, doesn't even get a noteworthy comment in this article for the suffering brought upon it by human indifference. As far as I am concerned the colosseum is an inanimate object, dosen't feel, doesn't hurt, and exists to produce revenue, because God knows what happened to humans and animals inside those walls didn't teach the human species a damn thing. Cruelty lives on in the acts of abuse inflicted on innocent animals and many humans as well. Human beings have bred themselves into a horde of 7 billion with a great majority having little to no access to the basics of food, water, and shelter. The rich get fatter and richer, they can't get enough and buy off governments with their wealth and are protected as individuals and corporations by those same governments they own. Ask the Vatican to fork over some money from the millions they take in from the 'faithful', and tax free business and land 'interests' and maybe sell some of their assets to save some of the national treasures. And while they're doing that save a living being FIRST, isn't that what St. francis would have done?!

9:26PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

What is Italy doing with the money it earns off of their cultural treasures? Don't they realize that if they don't keep up their treasures, and let them crumble, that the tourist dollars will slowly dry up?!

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