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The FAI… Italy’s National Trust
Journalist and author, Corrado Augias recently interviewed Vice President of the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) Marco Magnifico on his weekly Raitre television program, Le Storie Diario Italiano. Once again Italy’s ability to adequately protect and restore its artistic and cultural patrimony has come under fire.
The FAI founded in 1975 and modeled on England’s famous National Trust, was an idea conceived by Elena Croce, daughter of the great philosopher Benedetto Croce with the purpose of promoting a culture of respect for nature, art and the story of Italian traditions, which are patrimony of Italy’s identity.
The National Trust of England which was founded well over one hundred years ago was created not only to save places of historic interest and natural beauty, but also to open them up to the public. The FAI follows the same example as a charitable foundation depending on volunteers as well as monetary donations from ordinary citizens, private industry and institutions in order to make their mission possible.
Vice President Magnifico cites the recent collapse of monuments at Pompei as a serious wake-up call not only to the government of Italy but to private citizens as well. He reminds us that cultural tourism is one of the country’s greatest economic resources and that it has increased in Italy 15.4% since 2009, and during the first six months of this year more than 9% in Rome alone. Italy is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (47) to date and one estimate says that the country is home to half the world's great art treasures. By ignoring the problem we not only risk to damage our cultural heritage, but by not investing we risk to lose an enormous influx of capital which Italy sorely needs in this period of recession.