In spite of Italy being a relatively small country both in terms of surface (about 0.2% of the earth’s land area) and population (about 0.87% of human beings), it is the nation that has the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites (51 at the time of this writing). These astonishing figures indicate numerically how exceptional our peninsula is.
Since our land witnessed world-scale historical, political, and cultural phenomena (the Roman Empire, the Republic of Venice, and the Renaissance just to mention a few), we are today heirs—undeservedly— of such an extraordinary amount of monuments, buildings and works of art.
The media reports quite often incidents that prove that we are unable to properly manage such an heritage. Despite this, the millions of tourists who still visit Italy every year prove that this huge legacy has an enormous economic potential that we are not fully exploiting. I really think that if we were able to leverage it, we could create ten of thousands of new jobs. As a matter of fact, I believe we have an incredible opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. We could have an economic benefit—in terms of occupation and state revenues—and we could improve the effectiveness of our maintenance strategy at the same time. How to do that? I think that the Italian government should put out one or more international tenders for the management and maintenance of Italian artistic and historical heritage, under the following conditions:
- Foreign privately-held companies may submit to the tenders only.
- New workers will be selected by the private companies that won the tender. These companies will determine the criteria to hire the applicants. However, a certain percentage of the new employees shall be Italian.
- Profits shall be shared among winning companies and the Italian Republic.
- Competing companies shall present a management and maintenance plan that will be judged—along with other factors—to determine the winners. This plan shall actively involve Italian educational institutions (art schools, college of liberal arts, etc.), in order to create job opportunities for the professionals who have been trained by these schools. Believe it or not, in Italy there are many of such professionals who struggle to find a job.
Italian readers might wonder why the tenders should be for foreign companies only. I think there are two reasons why this choice would be beneficial for my country. First, I think that we as Italians take this heritage for granted because we forgot to respect it as we should. On the contrary, highly-educated foreigners  are generally more respectful, as they are totally aware of the immense value and the uniqueness of such assets. Second, I believe that getting in touch with different cultures and perspectives—even if it may be disorienting at the beginning— usually enriches people’s lives. This specific case is no exception.