Italy’s biggest bank to invest €5 billion in tourism

Italy’s largest bank by assets, Intesa Sanpaolo, has announced a deal with the country’s culture ministry to inject €5 billion into the Italian tourism sector.

Italy’s biggest bank to invest €5 billion in tourism
Cyclists ride past the Castle of Brolio in Chianti, Tuscany. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

A big chunk of that money will be used for restoration and redevelopment projects, making more buildings available for cultural use. The investment will take place over three years in a deal called ‘Pact for Tourism 4.0’ and will also include money for training of workers in the tourism sector, technological innovation, and modernization of accommodation.

Italy’s tourism sector makes up almost 12 percent of national GDP and accounts for 12.8 percent of Italian jobs, according to a study carried out by the Intesa Sanpaolo group. The same data measured 117 million visitors to the country last year, amounting to 403 million total overnight stays.

“I’m really happy with this agreement which marks a change of direction in how tourism is dealt with; a sector in which we not only have to get out of a crisis, but also to steer a strong growth,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. “I say to entrepreneurs: invest in tourism! There's a need for both the public and private sectors to play their part.”

2018 has been named ‘the year of Italian food in the world’ by Franceschini, who said the ministry would focus on promoting some of the country’s lesser-known delicacies alongside its world-renowned wines, cheeses, and pastries.

Recent years have seen a string of famous Italian sites renovated with funds from private donors, often from Italy's two most globally renowned sectors, luxury fashion and food. In November, Italy's largest prosciutto producer announced it would fund the restoration of an underground fresco in Naples' catacombs, and earlier in the year food chain Eataly pledged to pay for a €1 million hi-tech restoration of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper,.

In April, an insurance company announced it would finance a restoration of Venice's Royal Gardens, and fashion house Gucci said it would fund a revamp of the Boboli Gardens in Florence.

Other sites to have received makeovers from private donors include Rome's Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps.

READ ALSO: Italy plies visitors with wine in bid to boost tourismItaly plies visitors with wine in bid to boost tourism

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP


La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you’ll find in Italy

From Italian podcasts to surprising delicacies and our favourite overlooked travel destinations, new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you'll find in Italy

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

A cornerstone of Italian culture, the tabaccheria is used for much more than just buying cigarettes. In fact, these little shops are pretty central to everyday life and anyone who moves to or just spends time in Italy will need to become as familiar with them as they are with the local coffee bar.

From paying bills to purchasing bus tickets, here are just some of the services you should know about and a few tips for your first visit.

Why the tabaccheria is essential to life in Italy – even if you don’t smoke

For Italian language learners: listening to podcasts is a great way to immerse yourself in a new language. Luckily there’s a vast range of audio shows for people wanting to learn Italian, whether you’re studying at an advanced level or learning from scratch. Here we’ve selected a few of our favourites, plus readers’ suggestions:

Some of the best podcasts for learners of Italian

Italy is known worldwide for pizza and gelato, but Italian cuisine is incredibly diverse and visitors are often surprised by some of the local delicacies on offer. I know rustic Tuscan cuisine didn’t exactly match my expectations when I first arrived in Italy. I quickly learned to love it – but my mother-in-law’s homemade chocolate cake made with pig’s blood (sanguinaccio is a delicacy in Puglia…) was a step too far!

So, from fried brains and tripe to suggestive desserts that you definitely wouldn’t expect the local priest to approve of, here’s a look at some more of the traditional foods loved by Italians – but not always by foreigners.

From fried brains to ‘sexy’ cakes: The Italian foods you might not expect in Italy

Visitors can find more than they bargained for at a traditional Italian food market. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

As regular visitors know, there’s much more to Italy than just the glamour of Rome, Venice or Florence, but some destinations suffer – we think unfairly – from negative reputations. From Caserta to Reggio Calabria and beyond, here are some of the overlooked Italian towns that are home to incredible sights that everyone should see at least once.

Nine overlooked Italian towns you should visit

If you’re planning a visit to Italy (or to another part of Europe from Italy) this year but want to cut down your carbon footprint, train travel is a great option and there are more routes than ever connecting Italy’s major cities to other parts of the continent.

Here are some of the main direct international train services you can use for travel between Italy and other European countries this year.

The train routes connecting Italy to the rest of Europe in 2023

Remember if you’d like to have this weekly newsletter sent straight to your inbox you can sign up for it via Newsletter preferences in “My Account”.

Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected]