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We the Citizens, English translation of chapter 7 of Paesaggio, Costituzione, cemento: la battaglia per l'ambiente contro il degrado civile (Einaudi, 2010)

  • Author(s): Settis, Salvatore
  • et al.

Over the past twenty years an intense discussion has unfolded in Italy concerning the protection of the nation’s cultural heritage, its public property, and the lived environment. The Italian system of heritage protection is the oldest and (on paper at least) the most robust in the world: it begins long before the unification of the country and culminates in the Constitution of the Republic (1948), where for the first time “the tutelary guardianship of the landscape and the historic and artistic patrimony of the Nation” was inscribed among the fundamental principles of any modern state. To this long-standing tradition and the unique constitutional provision, may be added the recent establishment and revision of an extensive system of national norms by governments on the right and left alike. Nonetheless, at the very same time that the rhetoric of conservation has been most forceful, the Berlusconi government has, in practice, consistently undermined tradition, constitution, and law, so that the last two decades have witnessed the rapidly progressing deterioration of the resources, institutions, and values committed to the tutelage of the nation’s cultural heritage.

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