Italy’s prized historical sites up for sale

Fifty of Italy's prized historical assets are to be auctioned off as part of a plan to help repay the country's national debt. The Local takes a closer look at seven on the list, which includes fortresses, two Venetian islands and the castle which hosted Tom Cruise's Scientology wedding.

Italy's prized historical sites up for sale
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise (R) were married at Italy's Castello Odescalchi. Photos: Blackcat/Wikimedia Commons (L) and Andrew H Walker/Getty Images North America/AFP (R)

The Italian government is hoping to attract foreign buyers for 50 of its historical sites in a bid to raise €502m over the coming months as part of its 'Kill Public Debt Plan'.  However, the sites can only be used for tourism purposes.

READ MORE: Foreign property investors flock to Italy

The idea was conceived by former Prime Minister Mario Monti and brought to fruition by current leader, Enrico Letta, who scaled back an original list of over 300 properties to 50. 

But the plan has already been marred with opposition against the selling of "local treasures". A commentator on a Facebook page set up to campaign against the sale of the 18th century Villa Mirabellino in Lombardy said the move is a "grave mistake" and "it is the duty of the community to intervene". 

Others, however, pointed to the economic necessity, and the fact that the villa had been left to fall into ruin. One commentator said: "Better private, than public and in a state of decay'.

Click here to see some of the sites for sale

Do you think Italy is being too hasty with selling off its assets? Leave your comments below.

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?