At the invitation of the Italian authorities, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS advisory mission was carried out from 9 to 13 December 2008. The mission team had meetings with stakeholders, reviewed existing documents, several projects and plans and visited a number of selected sites in the Historic Centre of Naples.
The mission concluded that the values for which the site had been inscribed and its overall authenticity, the complex urban structure, architectural masterpieces and historic fabric, the townscape and surrounding landscape have been retained. In relation to integrity, which had not been examined as part of the inscription process, the mission team observed that there seems to be a high degree of integrity of the property – the threats to be noted currently are the lack of continuous maintenance of the urban fabric and major traffic plan interventions.
A number of achievements have been noted in restoring monumental buildings, and in fundraising for projects. The major challenges identified by the mission included weaknesses in coordinating the complex safeguarding and development processes, lack of a participatory approach, absence of a management plan and lack of a holistic approach with clear priorities and criteria on the basis of which any major restoration projects and programmes for the property could be evaluated and set up.
The large scale of the property and its complex character call for continuous monitoring and follow up on strategic decisions. This needs to be addressed in the future management plan and management system. The property could benefit from involvement of additional expertise on specific issues and in the coordination process, and regular missions. The mission, considering the size of the site, its remarkably long history, number of inhabitants, percentage of unemployment and considerable challenges with infrastructure recognized the complex challenges confronting those involved with the conservation of this living city,. The mission recommended that a shared strategic vision is needed specifically for the management system, and welcomed the intention to use many new programmes and projects as a motor for local economic and social development.
The mission team reviewed the overall state of conservation of the property and concluded that it was satisfactory, since the values, and authenticity for which it had been inscribed are still there. The interventions at major monuments (e.g. Certosa di San Martino, San Lorenzo, Castel Nuovo, Castel dell’Ovo) were up to international standards and even exemplary. The mission concluded that one of the key issues is finding the right balance between attention paid to the monumental buildings and to the continuous maintenance of the urban fabric, in particular of the non-monumental buildings (and the infrastructure) that conserve the traces of the rich history, carry the spirit of place (combining its tangible and intangible heritage, its values, and the authenticity for which the property had been inscribed). The mission addressed a series of recommendations to regarding:
- Maintenance and continuous monitoring of the urban fabric, and encouraging the process of engaging stakeholders to actively participate in caring for their environment;
- Implementation of the Grande Programma (EU Funding of 200 Million Euro and 80 Million from national sources for 2007-13) as a chance for a new approach, partnerships and methodology;
- Development of a management plan originally foreseen for December 2006 (as per Periodic Report of 2005), but that had not been prepared;
- Delivery of formal clarifications concerning the delimitation of the property, maps, an indication of the surface area of each component of the inscribed property in hectares and an official presentation of the recently approved buffer zone as a minor boundary modification;
- Presentation of new discoveries, extensive research and excavations and important findings;
- Potential development projects outside the property and the protected area, such as in the port area;
- Rehabilitation projects and the extension of this successful approach (e.g. Albergo dei Poveri) and the creative re-use of major historic buildings (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina Napoli);
- Damaging effects of traffic (air pollution, noise, vibrations) requiring that the overall traffic concept be included in the future management plan;
- Considerable increase in cultural tourism, requiring a special chapter in the management plan based on a specific study of needs and potential threats;
- Setting up a system of regular evaluation and follow-up in accordance with international standards.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies emphasize the importance of balancing investment in monumental and non-monumental buildings both of which contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Achieving this balance is a key challenge to be addressed in the preparation of the management plan.