As Italy is sucked into the worldwide economic crisis, and the general attitude in the streets of Florence is that of cynical pessimism, it is refreshing to see a write-up in the NY Times about the small Sicilian town of Salemi that gave artists and intellectuals power to remake the historic center of the town that had been largely abandoned after a devastating earthquake.
Salemi sold destroyed ancient buildings for one euro to those who guaranteed to restore the structures within two years. The aldermen focused on art and culture to bring visitors to the off-the-beaten-track village. And now Salemi has saved a collection of over 50,000 movies (videos and DVDs) from a classic shop in NYC’s East Village. The rest of Italy could learn something from Salemi about the type of ideas and idea-makers result in good governance.