Okay … for the past while I’ve been trying to understand a number of Italian newspaper articles about changes going on at the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali . It seemed that there were things going on ‘at the top’, but it took an item in English from the March edition of the Art Newspaper for them to actually make sense to me:
It is all change in Italy’s state administration of what it calls its “cultural assets”, the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, or MIBAC for short. Not only are nine high-ranking superintendents retiring [superintendents are the officials responsible for the state museums such as the Uffizi, for buildings such as the Coliseum, for archaeology and archives and conservation institutes, not to mention the much abused Italian landscape], but its top civil servant, Giuseppe Proietti, is also leaving. In a country where cultural life is deeply politicised, where career moves in the civil service depend on government whim to an extent that is unimaginable in the UK or US, the new secretary general is a Florentine, Roberto Cecchi (b. 1949).
The reaction nonetheless has been that the right man has been appointed. Cecchi trained as a conservation architect and entered the superintendency for architecture in 1980. From 1997 to 2001 he had responsibility for the “environmental and architectural assets” of Venice, a diplomatically challenging job that he discharged with energy, subtlety and pragmatism. Thereafter he returned to the ministry in Rome to head one of its directorate-generals.
His priority now will be to provide new leadership for the superintendency network, currently suffering from depleted manpower, absurdly restrictive regulations, inadequate funding and a government that has repeatedly shown little respect for the cadre. He will also have to prove that he can collaborate with Mario Resca, the government’s specially appointed director-general for “valorizzazione” of the artistic treasures of Italy, a term that should mean “making the most of”, but which some Italian politicians today think means “squeeze for the maximum profit possible”.
Apparently the job is going to be tough … in the past week, it seems, there have been a couple of major embarassing incidents. According to La Repubblica, employees at the Pantheon interrupted a concert therein because it was ‘closing time’ (i.e. 6.00 p.m.; the concert was scheduled to end at 6.15). There’s a Youtube video of the incident (go to around the five minute mark for the employee’s entrance; enjoy the concert up to that point):
Then in StabiaNews (March 6) we read this incipit:
Avrebbero potuto fare di tutto, magari staccare un mosaico e portarselo a casa. Di certo sono saliti su pezzi di colonne e capitelli per farsi immortalare come antiche statue. Il monumento archeologico pi� conosciuto al mondo per due ore in bal�a dei turisti. Tutto perch� qualcuno ha �dimenticato� di chiudere i cancelli mentre era in corso – fino alle 10,30 – un’assemblea indetta dalla Cisl, Uil, Flp e Rdb. [etc. apologies for the characters there; not sure what’s going on with that]
… i.e., for two hours while a union meeting was going on, tourists basically had the run of Pompeii, because someone forgot to lock the gate.
… the next day, folks were downplaying the incident and noting the problems that have arisen since the site of Pompeii was connected to Naples’ jurisdiction (or something like that):
And as long as we’re in the environs of Naples, we can mention the restoration (of sorts) of the stadium at Puteoli, although no one can visit it due to lack of staff:
Clearly we are seeing situations worthy of any number of internet abbreviations … OMG, WTF, SMH, DMNDS (that’s an Ochocincoism, I think) … etc.