At the urging of Italy's government, big companies are making major gifts to finance restoration work on the country's most famous landmarks, but some historians and preservationists fear the largess will open the door to commercial exploitation of cultural treasures, writes The New York Times.
Luxury and fashion brands like Tod's, Fendi, and Bulgari have stumped up millions of dollars for works on the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. As Italy continues to struggle with a stagnant economy and budget deficits, top officials are looking to private groups to help underwrite historic preservation and offering new tax breaks for such gifts.
The wave of giving has sparked worries that historic sites will be festooned with corporate logos or hired out to major donors. Officials in Florence drew fire for allowing Morgan Stanley to hold a dinner inside a 14th-century chapel, and preservationists were also dismayed when Rome's mayor rented Circus Maximus to the Rolling Stones for a concert last month.