See Naples before it dies of neglect
Report and protests highlight shoddy state of Unseco World Heritage site
By Ermanno Rivetti. Web only
Published online: 29 January 2013
The increasingly dire state of conservation of much of Naples’s cultural heritage—its churches, monuments, libraries and palaces—has been highlighted by a damning news report published by one of Italy’s leading papers, the Corriere della Sera, in January.
The online report revealed an alarming statistic: Naples has around 200 closed and abandoned churches. Some have been stripped of all their furnishings including works of art, some never received the funds they had been promised, while others received them but never embarked on the agreed conservation projects. Others still were closed down, restored and then never opened again.
The report points to years of neglect and mismanagement by the local and national government, as well as by the Church and the regional arm of the ministry of culture.
The city’s historic centre, the largest in Europe, has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage site for the last 17 years, however the city’s residents have long bemoaned the state of their heritage, so much so that a petition, signed by 16 civic committees and 60 leading intellectual figures, was circulated at the end of last year calling for the city to be stripped of its Unesco title.
The petition claims the city “does nothing to protect its treasures” and that “Unesco’s acknowledgement is only valid on paper”. It included a photographic dossier, documenting the neglect throughout the city, that was symbolically presented by the group during Unesco’s 40th anniversary conference at the city’s Federico II University.
The mayor, Luigi de Magistris, says that his administration has just managed to prevent an European Union grant of €100m, earmarked for the town centre, from being sent back to Brussels.
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