The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today extended her condolences to the inhabitants of northern Italy for the loss of human life and suffering caused by the earthquake that shook the region on May 20.
The Director-General also said that UNESCO is sending a mission to assess damage to World Heritage sites and other cultural heritage in northern Italy.
“While initial reports from the Italian authorities indicate that the World Heritage sites of Ferrara, as well as Mantua and Sabbioneta, have not sustained severe damage, UNESCO will continue to monitor the situation. UNESCO stands ready to work with the Italian authorities to ensure that the outstanding universal value of these sites is preserved,” she stated.
Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995 as an outstanding example of a planned Renaissance city, which has retained its urban fabric virtually intact. The Po Delta presents an outstanding planned cultural landscape and retains its original form to a remarkable extent.
There has also been concern for the World Heritage property of Mantua and Sabbioneta, inscribed in 2008. Both cities offer exceptional testimonies of the architectural and artistic achievements of the Italian Renaissance and played an important role in the dissemination of that culture.
Early media reports of damage to the region's World Heritage sites at this stage appear to have been overstated. Nevertheless, there is concern for the preservation of many other important buildings, including churches and palaces, which bear testimony to the rich cultural and artistic heritage of Italy. These sites may not feature on the World Heritage List, but their value to communities, art lovers and scholars cannot be underestimated.