Italian tourism

The Riace Bronzes are lifesize bronze statues of 2 Greek warriors made in c.460 B.C.. They were found in 1972 by some scuba divers just off the coast of Calabria and were taken to Florence for restoration where local craftsmen started to make copies for sale. While visiting Florence in 1981 we decided to buy one (photo). At the time we could only afford to buy one statue and have always thought it would be nice to complete the pair. Then a couple of years ago we went on a bus tour of Calabria and the highlight of the tour was a visit to the museum at Reggio Calabria where the statues are currently on display. We thought that, at last, we might be able to get the second one. Seeing the statues “in the flesh” was fantastic but the rest of the museum and the shop in particular were disappointing. The shop was tucked away at the end of a corridor and had almost nothing of quality to sell. There were lots of small plastic models of the statues, all made in China, and you would want to buy and keep. So our Riace Bronze remains all alone.

We are, therefore, not surprised by some of the statistics produced in a new book called “Vandali”. The book is a critique of how Italy fails to maintain its artistic treasures and also how it fails to exploit them. Among the statistics are the following:

  • The Tate Gallery in Britain has an annual turnover of 76 million euros while all the museums and archaeological sites in Italy have ticket sales of 82 million euros.
  • The Metropolitan Museum in New York takes in 43 million euros from merchandising while for all the museums and archaeological sites in Italy the sum is 39.7 million euros.
  • The Metropolitan Museum in New York gets 19.7 million euros from its restaurants, parking and auditorium use which is 3 times the amount of tickets  sales in Pompeii

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