Italy culture cuts are ‘disturbing’: association

Culture budgets in Italy have been drastically cut back in recent years, with spending on upkeep of monuments falling by more than half since 2008, a damning report said on Monday.

Italy culture cuts are 'disturbing': association
Italy will spend less on its priceless heritage over the next two years. Photo: Aaron Logan/Wikicommons

The Federculture association's report said the cash-strapped city of Rome had reduced spending on culture to 2.23 percent of its budget in 2012 from 4.33 percent in 2002 and would cut transfers further by up to 50 percent this year.

The national state budget for the culture ministry was also being reduced to €1.4 billion a year for 2014-2016 from €1.5 billion in 2013.

Spending on upkeep of Italy's priceless cultural heritage has meanwhile dropped to 75 million euros for 2013, compared to 165 million euros in 2008, it said.

"The situation is disturbing," Roberto Grossi, the head of Federculture, which groups public and private culture workers, told the Il Messaggero daily.

"If we turn off the lights on culture, cities are emptied of tourists, they become poorer," he said.

Grossi said the legal measures to allow private sponsorship of cultural treasures were not working properly and in any case private donations have fallen sharply during Italy's longest post-war recession.

Sponsorships have dropped by 38 percent since 2008 and donations from bank foundations – once a huge source of revenue – have fallen by 40 percent.

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Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.