you're reading...

Italy’s heritage for sale

Italy’s government has unveiled a fire sale of some real gems of the country’s heritage.

Some 350 historic buildings in the capital and historic towns across the country are to flogged off, including Castello Orsini di Soriano in Cimiano, Palazzo Bolis Gualdo in Milan and Palazzo Diedo in Venice.

Euros 42 billion worth of property is being put onto the market, a sizeable chunk the country’s Euros 600 billion public property portfolio.

Prime Minister Mario Monti, a former European Commissioner, says the move is necessary to reduce the country’s debt and so reassure the speculators in the financial markets that have sent Italy’s borrowing costs to record highs.

National treasures gift wrapped for banks

In practice the policy is just one more gift to banks – which have plenty to spend what with the billions in government support and from the European Central Bank – and the rich – who in Italy are master tax dodgers and who yet again have escaped a wealth tax demanded by left wingers and tax justice campaigners.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of Italians, who are being steadily impoverished by unemployment, reforms increasing job insecurity and austerity measures cutting living standards, won’t get a look in. They face a plain and simple plunder of their heritage.

Among those horrified by the privatisation of the country’s cultural jewels is Nicola Caracciolo from Italia Nostra, an organisation that campaigns for the protection of the country’s artistic and natural heritage. Not only because with the property market in the doledrums, public buildings that are currently for all in the nation will be sold off at bargain prices to a privileged few private individuals and deep pocketed organisations for their profit.

‘It makes more sense and in the long run there will be a greater return if we invest in our heritage rather than sell it off,’ Caracciolo told il Manifesto newspaper.

Lessons from the New Deal

Caracciolo argues that Italy, the eurozone’s third largest economy, should reject its destructive obsession with austerity, and instead learn from the New Deal that used public investment to lift the USA out of the Great Depression in the 1930s: among the most successful government programmes of President Roosevelt was the Civil Conservation Corps  which provided a living, shelter and training for 2.5 million young Americans in an ambitious conservation project for the American countryside. In parallel to this, the Democrat President promoted a massive cultural programme known as the Works Progress Administration. This boosted art, music, theatre, writing and local history collections, with an emphasis on engaging black and other minority ethnic communities. And it created tens of thousands of skilled jobs in the process.

Despite an unrivalled cultural patrimony and architecture, not to mention zillions of priceless artworks, Rome has a long history of neglect. Yet viewing the country’s Roman ruins, Renaissance churches and thousands of other historic treasures as assets rather than liabilities, would undoubtedly boost tourism, and crucially, cut the 2.8 million-strong dole queues, especially among the young, who are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis.

Sadly in Italy it is Mario Monti, a blinkered, neo-liberal Eurocrat, not a visionary like Roosevelt, at the helm.

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope



  1. Pingback: Industrial death in Italy « Revolting Europe - September 12, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter Updates

  • A Week in Revolting Europe paper.li/tomgilltweets/… #fortresseurope #grexit #euro #EU #austerity #protest #unemployment #precariat 7 hours ago
  • RT @ori_no_co: #Tirana: Third March of #Albanian Students Against Education Reforms - tinyurl.com/lx5e5zf via @newsrevo http://t.co/BJZq… 2 days ago
  • RT @SilviaAscarelli: EXCLUSIVE: Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis on the 2 things a deal with troika must include marketwatch.com/story/two-hurd… ht… 2 days ago
  • RT @MarketWatch: Forget "Grexit." Citigroup has just added a new word to the Greek crisis lexicon. on.mktw.net/1EvH5nT 2 days ago
  • RT @economistmeg: Greece: When I say we'll end up leaving the EUR, if we have to accept more unsustainable austerity, this is no bluff http… 3 days ago
  • Greece and European hubris | RussEurope russeurope.hypotheses.org/3752 via @openeditionsays 3 days ago
  • EU member country legislation will have to be vetted for potential impacts on private business interests under TTIP. corporateeurope.org/pressreleases/… 6 days ago
Follow @tomgilltweets

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Anti-social Europe in numbers


Key facts and figures on wages across the EU

Wealth Inequality in Europe

Get the key facts and figures


A different take on European issues

Italy’s Healthcare Crisis

Health services are ‘close to collapse’ in Rome, Turin and Naples after years of cuts and privatisation.

550 days, 29 Workers, Zero Job Losses

How a few determined Italian women stopped their factory closing and protected their livelihoods

Filthy Rich

France's Bernard Arnault of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) empire is worth $41 billion. Check out Europe's rich list


Private banks receive half-trillion-euro gift from ECB


Workers and citizens stand up for themselves


Workers are on a go-slow over privatisation

Popular resistance delivers results

Lessons from the victory against Madrid privatisation plan


Hundreds of workers occupied the factory of ArcelorMittal in Florange in the north of France

RSS Watching Corporate Europe

  • Commerce international, lobbies d'affaires et projet politique européen: une conversation avec Pierre Defraigne
  • International Trade, Corporate Lobbying, and the European Political Project: A Conversation with Pierre Defraigne
  • Appointment of head of Commission's 'think-tank' highlights inadequate conflict of interest assessment

RSS Fight discrimination in Europe – Amnesty Int’l

  • Listen to Roma Rights
  • Germany: blanket prohibition for teachers to wear religious and cultural symbols or dress is unconstitutional


in Italy the home is a very dangerous place to be


Follow Revolting Europe on WordPress.com

Top Clicks

  • enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en…
  • pcp.pt/en/joint-appeal-el…
  • blogs.publico.es/esther-v…
  • bloomberg.com/billionaire…
  • theguardian.com/world/vid…




Read the statement by Lafontaine and Melenchon

The Troika in Portugal – Three Years On

A success story?


The Dossier