5 - THE PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE IN ITALY
- Author: PROF. PIER LUIGI PETRILLO
How does one protect intangible cultural heritage? It is easy enough to imagine how to go about protecting a monument or a physical site that represents cultural or natural heritage, with careful restoration and management of public presence, etc. But what about cultural heritage that cannot be contained in a physical site? Linked to article 9 of the Italian Constitution, there is a law that mandates a fundamental protection of Italian landscapes, and expanding this law the Constitutional Court has included the protection of cultural heritage and intangible heritage. However, the Code of Cultural Heritage expressed in article 7, indicates that intangible cultural heritage is protected only in its material dimensions. This means that in the Italian legal system, intangible cultural heritage is guaranteed protection only in its material forms. The Sicilian Puppet Theater for example was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, but under Italian law, only the theater and puppets themselves will be protected - not the puppeteer or the oral traditions that give life to that puppet. The same applies to the Mediterranean Diet: There is no legal protection in place for the Mediterranean Diet, although the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies has taken measures to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage related to the Mediterranean Diet. Among other projects, the Ministry launched an initiative to create the Charter of Values for the Mediterranean Diet, and created the Network of Mediterranean Diet Communities which, together with the Emblematic Community of Cilento (selected to represent the Mediterranean Diet in Italy) forms one large network for the protection of the Mediterranean Diet in Italy. In some cases, such as in Calabria and Campania, there are regional laws that protect intangible cultural heritage, but being regional and not State laws are limited in scope and authority. There are several bills pending on the subject, but at the moment none have been passed into law. How then do we protect the Mediterranean Diet? It is imperative that we preserve this unique lifestyle that UNESCO has recognized as cultural heritage worthy of protection by passing to our children, grandchildren and friends. It is a lifestyle based not just on the foods cultivated and eaten but on the way in which they are eaten: the social experience of eating and preparing food together, of welcoming food as an opportunity to be together, an opportunity for conviviality and dialogue, for individual and communal growth, the slowness of meal time. These are the values of the Mediterranean Diet that must be lived, shared and preserved.