During the Italian Presidency of the EU Council (2014) was drafted the “Charter of Rome on Natural and Cultural Capital”: a strategic document that emphasizes the importance of the Natural and Cultural Capital and fosters the realization of green economy initiatives and enhance multiple synergies.
In this context, the General Directorate for the Protection of Nature and Sea, with the support of the Foundation for Sustainable Development, has carried out a survey with the main purpose of analyzing the consistency of the Cultural Capital within Italian National Parks, where are preserved elements of an extraordinary ecological value but also a rich collection of archaeological, artistic, historic and cultural sites. Within these protected areas lies a mosaic made of natural elements and human traces, as a result of centuries of coexistence. This mosaic deeply characterizes the landscape and shapes the identity of these beautiful areas. A better understanding of the archaeological sites, the buildings and the settlements found inside the borders of our National Parks can help us to understand the history of those who lived there and the changes that occurred in these territories.

The mission envisaged by the General Directorate for the Protection of Nature and Sea is to finally collect and systemize an impressive range of information that were only available on a piecemeal basis and, eventually, make them accessible to the wider audience. This effort was made in order to foster the knowledge on protected national areas, to support the launch of enhancing initiatives and to provide to local communities with new perspectives of employment and prosperity.

The data collected so far confirm the extraordinary appeal of National Parks and their surrounding areas: in what can be considered the tourist area of ​​influence of each park, were found almost 800 libraries and museums, more than 400 sites of archaeological interest and more than 1250 sites of historical, artistic and architectural interest. A truly remarkable heritage, astounding for its variety: a journey that lasts thousands of years, through prehistoric, archeological and historic sites, monasteries, churches, fortifications, palaces, medieval villages and historic routes.

The results of the census, continuously updated, have been collected in the “The Catalogue of Cultural Capital in the National Parks”.

As part of the project it was also published the report “The Charter of Rome and the National Parks. First report on the synergy between the Natural Capital and Cultural Capital “. The volume – that sums up all the cataloging work – shows few lines of description for every salient features and cultural identity of each park, depicting the main historical events experienced in their territory and with a brief description of few representative goods, chosen according to this four criteria:

  • the utmost importance in relation to the historical archaeological heritage;

  • the relative importance of the historical – artistic heritage within the boundaries of the protected areas;

  • the conditions of the site and the awareness of the wide audience;

  • the accessibility and ease of use.

This work does not intend, therefore, to be an exhaustive guide of the cultural heritage of the National Parks but simply a gateway to its discovery, a first step towards the recognition of a valuable aspect that hasn’t been, so far, considered with due care.