LoveItaly! – the gentle revolution of beauty

Pompeii

“Yes, LoveItaly! strives to overturn the current approach to conservation and promotion of Italy’s historical and artistic masterpieces. But it pursues this goal one step at the time. It’s going to be a ‘gentle’ revolution,” Tracy Roberts promises. Roberts is founding partner and vice president of this new, nonprofit association, which has announced through an international crowdfunding platform its plan to create a fundraising system that can bring together big and small donors, wherever they may be.

Loveitaly! is supported by LVenture Group, a venture capital operator investing in digital startups, and introduced itself to international media on October 20, with a large press conference in Rome. During the event, president Richard Hodges – a British archaeologist, president of the American University of Rome and board member of the Packard Institute – explained this revolutionary idea in further detail: “The key is engagement. We want to create a bottom-up movement that can use people’s donations to gather all the players in the field and the people who love Italy’s masterpieces around the common goal of enhancing the importance and beauty of such works of art. We want to engage organizations, experts, universities, museums, fine arts academies, and the international press. And we believe that the power of crowdfunding is crucial to achieve our goals.”

The first challenge has already been tackled: the restoration of Cubicle 3 in Pompeii’s Domus Centaurus, a room with antechamber and alcove from the 2nd-century, the golden age of the ancient city at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. The fundraising campaign was launched thanks to an agreement signed with the Special Authority for Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabia.

We talked about this and much more with Tracy Roberts, an international relations expert who was born in California but has lived in Italy for some thirty years..

La sede del Luiss Enlabs, a Roma

La sede del Luiss Enlabs, a Roma

You said it will be a “gentle revolution”: what do you mean?
Through past experiences, we have understood how important it is to accept that the people we work with have different schedules and priorities. We understand that the innovation we are fostering is revolutionary, and we know that we’ll need time and patience before people understand its incredible potential.

LoveItaly! is such a new endeavor…
Yes, it started just one year ago. In July 2014, during a convention in Rome, I met Luigi Capello, the founder of Luiss Enlabs, the digital startup accelerator we work with. I was excited to see his work, and started thinking…

About what?
For example, about the fact that Italy is home to fifty UNESCO World Heritage sites, more than any other country in the world. And about the fact that over fifty million tourists visit the country every year. I started to wonder: what if we could get in touch with each and every one of those tourists, engaging them in a project for the conservation and enhancement of Italy’s historical and cultural heritage? If we could get them to contribute even just one euro each, we would easily gather a significant sum…

I’m sure crowdfunding helped inspire and develop this train of thought…
Of course. I told myself: why don’t we use crowdfunding to protect and bring out the value of our works of art? The beauty of this system is that it engages people – including, most importantly, the many foreigners who love Italy and like the idea of being responsible and in charge of some of the country’s beauty. It’s a fulfilling mechanism because their “compensation” gives them the chance to live extraordinary experiences in Italy… you know, I’m American and I know my fellow countrymen very well.

Pompei

Pompei

What do you mean?
There are a number of people in the United States who are deeply in love with Italy. People from all over the world feel attached to the country. What we need to do is reach them at home, from Tennessee to China… I immediately shared this idea with Capello, and instead of arranging an appointment with me in September, after the summer holidays – as I would have expected – he replied, “That’s great, let’s talk about it tomorrow morning.” That is how this adventure began.

It was a great start…
Yes, and everything went even better from then on! We started brainstorming, and obviously changed and tweaked the original idea on the way. Capello and his team offered all the support we needed: graphic designers, social media specialists, students who know everything about the digital world, a lawyer…

Then other partners came up…
Yes. I talked to Richard Hodges from the American University of Rome, and he was eager to join us, taking on the role of president. His numerous and prestigious international relations make him a crucial asset for the association. Then Francesco Sforza came onboard; he is head of Associazione dimore storiche italiane – Lazio Chapter, and also immediately embraced our project and got more people involved; he is now president of LoveItaly!’s board of directors. In short, a surprising word-of-mouth process quickly brought together a great international and diverse team, including university professors, archaeologists, finance mavens, founders of innovative startup, economists, architects, art historians, cultural heritage managers, global newspaper journalists, lawyers, writers…

Pompei, Cubicolo 3 della Domus del Centauro

Pompei, Cubicolo 3 della Domus del Centauro

What projects did you want to fund at first?
Initially, we thought we would focus on something big, like the Domus Aurea or some other important site in Rome. Then, suddenly, Cubicle 3 of the Domus Centaurus in Pompei became available. I say “available” because this is a very important factor in our work: we have met many incredible people in the Public Administration, people willing to work with us and to find legal ways to carry out our projects. We are very appreciative of them, because crowdfunding is something new, still waiting for most laws and regulations to catch up.

The relationship you established with Rome’s Superior Institute for Conservation and Restoration must have been another pleasant surprise…
Absolutely. Together, we are planning a way to fund the restoration of the “Tiaso marino”, a massive sarcophagus from the Imperial Age, currently in the National Ancient Art Gallery in Palazzo Corsini in Rome. It’s a very interesting collaboration because it might help us reach universities and schools, where we could spread the idea of “crowdfunding for Italian beauty”. But first we have to prove our value, and establish ourselves through our work…

How will you do that?
First of all, by making our social media presence as strong as possible – because crowdfunding is based on digital communication, and we want to reach the widest audience possible, all around the world. We have to be everywhere. We are even getting ready to set up a nonprofit association in the United States – called “American friends of LoveItaly!” – so that Americans can make their donations easily and with some tax benefits.

So… the revolution has begun.
Yes, our “gentle revolution” is moving forward, and is open to anyone who loves Italy, and to anyone who wishes to preserve and spread the country’s beauty.

Il “Tiaso marino”, imponente sarcofago di età imperiale conservato nella Galleria nazionale di Arte antica di Palazzo Corsini a Roma

Il “Tiaso marino”, imponente sarcofago di età imperiale conservato nella Galleria nazionale di Arte antica di Palazzo Corsini a Roma

Particolare del "Tiaso marino"

Particolare del “Tiaso marino”

Particolare del "Tiaso marino"

Particolare del “Tiaso marino”

October 26, 2015

LoveItaly! – the gentle revolution of beauty

Rome
Associazione culturale LoveItaly!, via Giolitti, 34
+39 06 62275412
+39 389 8296710