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Palermo wins title of Italian Capital of Culture 2018

by Andrea Carli

“And the winner is... Palermo!”. The Sicilian capital has been named “Italian Capital of Culture 2018.” The decision was made yesterday by a jury appointed by the Culture Ministry and will result in a million-euro award for promotion and investments, as well as a likely increase in tourist visits.

Palermo, one of the most beautiful cities in Italy—with a truly enviable historical and cultural legacy—was one of the finalists on the shortlist of ten cities: the others were Alghero, Aquileia, Comacchio, Ercolano, Montebelluna, Recanati, Settimo Torinese , Trento, and a joint Elima-Erice bid (including Buseto Palizzolo, Custonaci, Erice, Paceco, San Vito Lo Capo, and Valderice).

Now that the city has achieved this recognition, the Sicilian capital will gain certain economic benefits. For starters, it will receive €1 million, allowing it to carry out investments to promote cultural activities and increase the value of its artistic heritage.

This expenditure will be excluded from the so-called “Internal Stability Pact”—the limitations the Italian government placed on municipalities in order to manage their budgets.

The title of “Italian Capital of Culture” lasts for one year.

“We saw that this virtuous competition creates a system of communal participation,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, “Being on the shortlist is a bit like receiving an Oscar nomination: it allows them to do a lot of work, in terms of planning and promotions.”

The award, which serves to promote tourism in the chosen city, was given for the first time two years ago.

Mantua won in 2016 , and this year’s champion is Pistoia. 2018 will be Palermo’s year: the Sicilian capital is organizing “Manifesta 12”, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art. One of their initiatives currently under development is promoting an Arab-Norman route that will connect Palermo with Cefalù and Monreale (the path was recently granted UNESCO Heritage status).

Palermo’s Teatro Massimo—whose façade was lit up with red-white-green lights yesterday—has already scheduled opera performances for 2018, including Verdi’s “Nabucco,” Puccini’s “Turandot,” and the ballet “Adam's Passion” (directed by Bob Wilson); it will also host the multiethnic “Arcobaleno” choir. Their themes include migration in the Mediterranean (with the Immigrant Literature Festival) and religious traditions, starting with the Feast of Saint Rosalia.

And here’s the icing on the cake: a few weeks ago, Palermo was also named the Italian Capital of Young People 2017.