A new Heritage and Landscape Codex – aimed at rationalising huge layers of multifaceted legislation regulating the field since the early past century – was adopted by Minister Urbani through the Delegated Decree 42/2004, according to Law 137/2002 (see chapter 4.2.1). It was further modified by Minister Buttiglione (Leg. Decrees 156/2006 and 157/2006) and by Minister Rutelli (Leg. Decrees 62/2008 and 63/2008), so much so that it can be defined as a complex and protracted “bipartisan endeavour”.
This monumental Codex, made up of 184 Articles, attempts to be all-embracing. After sanctioning a new, more extended and up-to-date definition of cultural goods, also inclusive of immaterial goods, it regulates in detail all the functions pertaining to the heritage, archives and libraries – protection, valorisation, management, national and international circulation of cultural goods, etc. – as well as to the landscape.
Although a large part of the huge pre-existing legislation dealing with this matter – from the first extensive law regulating the protection of the heritage, Law 1089/1939, up to the recent legislation in support of public-private partnership (see chapter 3.1) – has been incorporated into this new Codex, some quite substantial changes have also been introduced over time. The most controversial ones have been dealing with the alienation of public cultural property and the possibility to entrust private entities – both non-profit and profit – with the management of public museums, monuments and sites. Following a fierce debate, though, these two measures have been considerably softened in the following amendments to the Codex. The possibility to hand over the management of public cultural property to the private for-profit sector was, in fact, explicitly excluded by Leg. Decree 156/2006, whereas new measures to prevent the alienation or improper economic exploitation of public cultural property were adopted by Leg. Decree 63/2008.
Further changes were introduced by Leg. Decrees 62 and 63/2008 (respectively devoted to the heritage and landscape), the former introducing new measures to prevent the improper alienation of public property, whereas the second endowed the Sovrintendenze with stronger powers with regard to landscape planning restrictions and the granting of permits.
However the safeguarding powers formerly granted to the Sovrintendenze have been subsequently somehow downgraded by Ministerial Decree 29 August 2014, the final say in landscape and heritage matters having been entrusted to the newly created, more plethoric, Regional Commissions for Heritage (see also chapter 1.2.3). A further, much more controversial possible downgrading could be brought about by the implementation of Law 124/2015 on the reform of public administration (the so called legge Madia), which provides for all administrative territorial branches – including the Soprintendenze – to be incorporated into the prefectures, thus subordinating heritage safeguarding decisions to the prefects (Ministry of the Interior). Despite the reassurances of “non interference” by Minister Franceschini, the prefects’ future role in this respect – in particular as far as planning restrictions are concerned – is actually still unclear…