Italy’s new ruins: heritage sites being lost to neglect and looting

Overgrown and weathered, many historical monuments are disappearing as public funds for culture fail to match modern Italys inheritance Legend has it that the grotto hidden among the craggy cliffs on San Marco hill in Sutera in the heart of Sicily holds a treasure chest full of gold coins. In order to find it, three men must dream simultaneously about the precise place to dig. Treasure or no treasure, the grotto itself is an archaeological gem, its walls adorned with a multi-coloured Byzantine-esque 16th-century fresco depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saints Paulinus, Luke, Mark and Matthew. One of the first mountain oratories in the world, it was built by Basilian monks in the 9th century. But time has weathered …

Goodbye to Gomorrah: the end of Italy’s most notorious housing estate

Famous as the setting for the hit Italian film and TV series Gomorrah, the towers of Le Vele became synonymous with poverty and organised crime until residents took charge When I think of my life in Le Vele, my skin crawls with rage, says Omero Benfenati. He looks out from a dark, narrow passageway framed by suspended steel stairways that block the natural light and lead up to abandoned apartments. Most of the windows are bricked up, and liquid leaks from split pipes on to the sewage and refuse-strewn asphalt several storeys below. We used to play down there, says Benfenati, now a housing activist. The uncollected rubbish bags make ideal goalposts for five-a-side football. Just a few years ago, …

Leonardo da Vinci events marred by Italy and France row

500th anniversary of artists death overshadowed by escalating diplomatic tensions Events to commemorate Leonardo da Vinci will take place in France and Italy on Thursday, the 500th anniversary of the artists death, with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, hosting his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella. The two heads of state will meet at Amboise in the Indre-et-Loire region to visit the Chteau du Clos Luc, where Da Vinci lived from March 1516 until his death in 1519. It was at Clos Luc that the Renaissance master painted three of his most famous works: Mona Lisa, St John the Baptist and the Virgin and Child with St Anne. The three paintings are displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Macron extended the …