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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2018 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 I t's not a competition, but rather a relay race. Every day of the year, Italian cities hand on to each other an important torch: that of telling to the world - and first of all to Italians, who too often take for granted the immense cultural and artistic patrimony on which they continuously lay eyes and feet - about the enormous treasure of beauty, art and history of which the country has been imbued for millennia. Because, in order to love a place, we don't only need to protect it and value it, but also - before anything else - to know it and making it known. Only by showing its worth, giving to its talents freedom of expression and shedding a light on its precious uniqueness, we can truly understand its importance and why it is so necessary to preserve and pass on this complex DNA we have received as generous inheritance. Only when we become aware of our own potential, we can truly learn how to make it shine. It's impossible athletes break any world record, if they can't reach personal ones, without having understood how to use their own muscles, how to run and what their very own limits are. Italian cities are called to show their own beauties and to transform them in fly-wheels of development. This has been happening for a few years now, through a nationally designated Italian Capital of Culture. The State donates a million euro to stimulate local administrations to pursue a sustainable development model where culture is at the centre of the social, economic and civic growth of the territory. Edition after edition, the chosen Italian Capital of Culture demonstrated it is possible to create an harmonious urban development based on a city's historical, cultural and architectural patrimony, on associative experiences, on the ability to bring together public and private efforts, on the involvement of all the citizenry. All to transform its strengths into turistic and cultural attractors at the service of both residents and visitors. Because a non accessible beautiful monument is just like a fictional castle or an invisible Triumph Arch. It's just like no one knew the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans. When Matera was officially declared European Capital of Culture for 2019, after beating other 5 Italian cities - Ravenna, Cagliari, Lecce, What would Italy be without its amazing culture? From the director Perugia and Siena - it was decided that Italy, just like Europe (which invented the European Capital of Culture in 1985, to promote the knowledge of the historical, cultural and artistic wealth of EU member States) should have had each year its very own brightest star. And so, before Matera 2019, the first southern city to be declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage, Mantova in Lombardia and Pistoia in Toscana had been Italian Capitals of Culture. Palermo, in Sicily, has just taken up its yearly duty, which will give it a privileged stage to show up its beauty, to take a leap over all other gorgeous Italian cities and to show off its very own family jewels. Successor to Matera will be Parma, in Emilia Romagna. But what does being a capital of culture for a year mean? It's not simply about earning a million euro, which is very little once put to use for projects that would need many more to be fully developed. Rather, it means that smaller and larger communes all over Italy decide to invest in culture and transform it into the key of their development. Thinking about it, this is already a small, yet huge cultural revolution. It's the demonstration of a change, of the will to open up our perspectives and create a new horizon, taking a much deeper breath. Not simply because creating culture is a complex economic activity: in the era of society of knowledge and global markets, creating culture is indeed a difficult task that has to continuously adapt to a variety of goods and services often profoundly different from one another in their content, technologies and users. But because we invest in ourselves and in our own values. Moreover, it means to highlight the link between culture, arts and cultural industries in general, with the economical dimension, which doesn't only mean that culture is a social investment, a regenerating and enriching capital for communities. It also translate into recognizing (and this is far from being a given) that culture does not only put bread on the table, but also feeds the mind: culture means growth of potential. All this means that the economical potentialities of culture should not be seen as its vilification: in our country, culture is an economic macrosector worth almost 10% of the national gross national product, directly employing around 2 million people. It is evident this should not be neglected. We should make one last consideration: taking for granted, of course, that knowledge impregnates each and every human activity and contributes to our well being, try to think of Italy without culture. What would be left of it? How much of its amazing identity would be lost? In other words, could we ever truly deal with a world without the cultural beauty of Italy? Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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