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Art tourism for all

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 8 Marzo 2002

I participated in the 47th National Meeting of ADA, the Hotel Managers’ Association, which was held in Florence and included symposiums, institutional moments and entertainment opportunities. The event was well designed and organised, the venue of the meeting being in the town centre, behind Santa Maria Novella, at Palazzo Gaddi, in frescoed halls reminiscent of historic tradition. Italian art cities are definitely unique, and it is easy to understand what brings so many foreigners to visit them. Even the effects of the 11th September crisis are slowly ebbing away, and the old habits are resurfacing, stronger than ever. During the Friday morning meeting session, a prominent political personality from the municipal government indoctrinated us about Florence – a tourist city, only oriented to quality tourism. The idea – put in a nutshell – is that one has to make the most of Florence being a must for tourism, penalising the less wealthy tourists. The cost of a parking space for a bus being raised to 300,000 lire is thus viewed as a matter of consistence, to avoid having too many simpletons in town trooping up behind their guides’ little flags. It is true that tourism involves making use of a community’s assets; we should not forget, however, that that community is tourism’s number one beneficiary. A public administrator is rightly accountable to the citizens who have given him (or her) their trust. The problem is whether transforming a town into a an armour-plated area may be an adequate decision. The traveller who visits Florence with a group today is the person who will carry an indelible memory of the experience, and will pass it on to other people. An integrated, complex and fragile phenomenon such as tourism lives and thrives within a set of interdependent processes, and all places contribute to the growth of the “Italy system”, which in turn contributes to their development.

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