This two-fold paper discusses 15 years of privatization of Italian
cultural and architectural heritage between 1996 and 2010. The paper is
composed by I) an introductory talk between Salvatore Settis und Roland
Benedikter, and II) an essay by Roland Benedikter. It builds upon a 2004 publication by Roland Benedikter in the International Journal of Heritage Studies (IJHS), London. The present paper is one of the first attempts to get an overall view
of the privatization process of Italian cultural and architectural heritage of
the past 15 years. Part I is an easy to read introduction into the outstandingly
complex topic. Part II is an in-depth elaboration that builds upon a review of
the history of Italian heritage conservation, including the laws of the
“Berlusconi culture” since the second half of the 1990s. It discusses some case
studies and assesses the perspectives of the process at its 15-year-anniversary.
importance of the issue derives from the fact that the privatization process of
Italian cultural heritage, numerically speaking the most important in Europe
and one of the most important in the world, can be seen as to some extent
exemplary for the development of the sector in Europe, including both its
ambivalences and chances.