With over 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and over 48 million visitors per year, who doesn’t love Italy? It is this passion for Italy that has prompted Tracy Roberts fellow expat living in Italy for 33 years and partners to launch LoveItaly!
But what exactly is LoveItaly!? “We are a non-profit organization. We want to create movement to raise money for restoration projects,” comments Tracy. “It’s about helping Italy. If all of us do a little thing, instead of complaining, we’ll make a difference.”
“LoveItaly! started with a conversation with Luigi Capello, founder of LVenture [a holding company which operates in venture capital and invests in startups] about Italy.” Tracy explains that contrary to the usual comments about the negative economic situation, she was surprised to hear positive feedback about LVenture’s developments and its “exciting environment.” She shared her interest in Italy’s cultural heritage and Luigi jumped at the idea. “Let’s get started,” he said “in protecting the most precious resource we have: our cultural heritage.”
“We began talking to more people and discovered so much enthusiasm.” LoveItaly! is partnering up with the National Institute for Conservation and Restoration. “It’s a wonderful institution,” she explains. “In Italy where you have artworks like nowhere in the world, there is a lack of resources so we’re doing this experiment. We meet so many people with passion who love what they do.”
“We are a group of people who love Italy’s cultural heritage.” Roberts explained the importance of reaching out to your connections, “I suggested we approach Richard Hodges, whose response was ‘fantastic’!” Richard is president of the American University of Rome and has been very active in archaeological projects in Italy since 1978. “We are all volunteers,” she comments, “there’s lots of energy. The company is growing with a positive environment. It took us one year to launch this project. Working with public administration takes time. We just got incorporated in the USA. We’re amazed at how fast it’s growing.”
“Something I really appreciate,” states Roberts “is the idea of a non-profit association to help Italy’s cultural heritage and there is so much to be done. Everyone can help; everyone loves Italy for its food, cities, fashion and art. We want to reach out to everyone.”
“We’d also like to open up to schools. We really want to work with schools and re-educate students to appreciate these works of art. We’d also like to create more work in the culture heritage field. There’s so much to be done and the state doesn’t have the funds.”
And that is where LVEnture’s technological know-how comes in place. “Crowdfunding was the main idea, right from the start,” she says. “But we also needed corporate help. It’s good for a company to invest in culture. We’re the middleman. We watch how the money is being used; keeping people constantly up-to-date and keeping things transparent using best practice measures.” Roberts stresses this last point, it is “very important,” she says. “It’s what has to be done and the right way to do it.”
“If someone in the US wants to donate, its important to have someone here as a reference point – that’s one of our main roles – to solve problems.”
“There is a lot of involvement from the international community, from Italians who have relocated to the US and so one. A lot of people are crazy about Italy.” With so much energy and enthusiasm we are happy to learn that LoveItaly! has begun their journey with two very interesting restoration projects. “We needed a big project,” comments Tracy “and now we’re working on Pompeii.” LoveItaly! is raising funds to restore the beauty of Cubiculum 3 of the Domus of the Centaur in Pompeii. “We also have a project in Rome. We are working with the National Institute for Conservation and Restoration and their students.”
“We also have a wish list of projects all over Italy, wherever there’s a need. At the moment we’re in talks for two projects in Florence and another in Venice. We are working on the bureaucratic process ad getting our project approved.” Full details of these projects, their current status and extensive restoration required are available on their website along with details on how to donate.