Periodic reporting on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Convention provides in Article 29 that States Parties shall submit to the Committee reports on the legislative, regulatory and other measures taken for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in their territories. Current page presents the periodic reports and deadlines of a country: Italy (see overview on all States Parties).

Periodic reporting on the implementation of the Convention allows States Parties to assess their implementation of the Convention, evaluate their capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, report on their inventories of intangible cultural heritage and update the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List.

On the implementation of the Convention

Each State Party submits its periodic report to the Committee by 15 December of the sixth year following the year in which it deposited its instrument of ratification.

Report submitted on 15/12/2021 and examined by the Committee in 2022


soon available

Report submitted on 15/12/2013 and examined by the Committee in 2014


The main legislation relating to intangible cultural heritage is the Cultural and Landscape Heritage Code of 2004 (addition of Article 7bis in 2008 after ratification of the Convention), which concerns the safeguarding of cultural and landscape heritage, its public enjoyment, the conservation of the memory of the nation and of the Italian territory and, in general, the development of culture. Many regions have adopted specific legislation to promote and safeguard eco-museums and intangible cultural heritage itself, e.g. Lombardy (2007), Umbria (2007) and Molise (2008).
The principle body responsible for the implementation of the Convention is the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (MiBACT, Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo) via its network of national services and bodies (central and special institutes) and local services and bodies (regional superintendencies and offices, archives and libraries). This network collaborates with research and documentation centres, cultural institutions, non-governmental organizations and foundations in order to implement research methodologies and legal, technical, administrative and financial measures. It also enhances the knowledge and appreciation of local traditions, outputs, and activities included within the definition of intangible heritage. Institutional responsibilities for the implementation of the Convention are also shared among different departments of the central government, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry Policies; the Ministry of Education, University and Research; and the Ministry for the Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea. The Italian National Commission for UNESCO links public administrations with civil society.
Concerning training in the management of intangible cultural heritage, there are courses in ethnology and anthropology at the Universities of Rome, Milan and Perugia, and several research schools operate in close contact with the relevant communities. In addition to work on anthropological theory, such programmes include professional internships and practical training in the safeguarding and enhancement of cultural heritage, in particular at museums and other cultural institutions and places. A Master’s degree on Tourism and the Environmental Operative Management of Demographic and Anthropological Heritage was established at the University of Cassino in 2007. MiBACT is working on the design and programming of capacity-building activities relating to intangible cultural heritage aimed at experts and communities and a number of training seminars for experts have been organized since 2009. Professional associations of anthropologists and non-governmental organizations also play an important role in coordinating the work of specialists involved with intangible cultural heritage.
Various bodies at State, regional and local authority levels undertake the documentation and classification of intangible cultural heritage. Under MiBACT, the main institutions are the Istituto centrale per il catalogo e la documentazione (ICCD, Central Institute for Cataloguing and Documentation), the Istituto centrale per i beni sonori ed audiovisivi (ICBSA, Central Institute for Sound and Audiovisual Heritage), the Istituto centrale per la demoetnoantropologia (IDEA, Central Institute for Demographic and Ethnographic Anthropology) and the Museo nazionale preistorico etnografico Luigi Pigorini (Luigi Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography). Together with the various regional and specialized institutes, these bodies make cultural heritage documentation available to as many people as possible, by means of the tools of information technology, particularly websites, databases and digital libraries, in compliance with regulations and in accordance with the technical and scientific criteria and standards adopted at national and regional levels.
At the regional level, inventorying is achieved through catalogues with a very detailed structure and which follow a scientifically encoded method of description. The regions of Lazio, Lombardy, Piedmont and Sicily all have their own registers of intangible cultural heritage. At the national level, MiBACT administers two inventories, both managed by ICCD: (1) The National Catalogue of Italian Cultural Heritage, which is legally regulated by the Code for Cultural and Landscape Heritage (2004, amended in 2008); and (2) The Inventory of the Integrated Project of Intangible Cultural Heritage (PACI), which has a publicly accessible dedicated website.
The former relies upon data gathered using the Beni Demoetnoantropologici Immateriali card (BDI), a format that records living cultural heritage by researching and recording cultural expressions at the moment of their expression. For example, the specific audiovisual documentation of a handicraft includes the entire manufacturing process demonstrated, described and commented on by its traditional bearer. The data for each element are assembled from field surveys and audiovisual documentation. To ensure better community participation, a more responsive and lightweight tool is currently under development by the ICCD, namely a simplified form of the BDI known as the Information Module (MODI), again using a field-survey approach and audiovisual documentation of the elements. The second inventory employs another abridged version of the BDI data record of the National Catalogue; it is intended to serve as a compendium of various existing inventories and archival collections, especially those of its three primary partners: the ICCD, ICBSA and IDEA. It also includes specialized inventories related to some nomination files for the Representative List.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies manages two additional national inventories for agricultural know-how and traditional food practices: (1) an inventory of production techniques, agricultural practices and traditional Italian food practices and (2) an inventory of rural practices and traditional knowledge. The former is published annually in the Official Gazette; the latter is available on the Ministry’s website.
Each local administration organizes seminars for experts, meetings with communities and educational activities for schools on topics related to intangible cultural heritage under its competence. MiBACT organized a training project on intangible cultural heritage in the Campania Region for primary, junior and senior high school pupils (2008). In 2012-2013, eleven of the 81 Italian schools in the international ASPnet network of UNESCO schools carried out educational projects in the field of intangible cultural heritage. Primary and secondary school pupils take part in activity workshops dedicated to knowledge about and the practice of material items and traditions of the intangible cultural heritage related to the natural environment, organized by ministries and professional associations.
To devolve safeguarding to the regional and local levels, Italy has a policy of establishing eco-museum systems with autonomy in their management and decision-making. Eco-museums are based on an agreement by which a community takes care of a specific territory, a practice that supports participatory heritage development through an organized entity which represents the local community. Thus far, seven regional authorities have followed this approach.
Italian institutions have participated in several bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation projects: the University of Milan, with nine European partners, has partaken in MeLa, a four-year European Union project on new approaches for museums in response to migration, cultures, ideas, information and knowledge in the global world; two Italian institutions have taken part in MAP for ID - Museums as Places for lntercultural Dialogue, a two-year (2007-2009) European Union Lifelong Learning Programme, which is the continuation of a previous learning partnership to develop the skills of personnel working on heritage education in an intercultural setting; the project ‘Leveraging the intangible patrimony content of agriculture for improving livelihoods of small farmers and migrants’ (2010-2011) was organized with the Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico, the IFAD, ACRA, Oxfam ltalia and the International Carnival and Mask Museum (in Belgium), a research project on the intangible cultural heritage connected with the ‘neglected cultigens’ of Senegal, Morocco and Ecuador; and there was also the ‘READ-ME 11’ EU project (Italy, France, Belgium, Austria - 2010-2012) on safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of migrants.
There are four elements on the Representative List that are subject to reporting in this cycle: Opera dei Pupi, Sicilian puppet theatre (incorporated in 2008, having previously been proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001); Canto a tenore, Sardinian pastoral songs (also incorporated in 2008, after being proclaimed a Masterpiece in 2005); the Mediterranean diet (2010) (a multinational element shared by Spain, Greece, Italy and Morocco); and Traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona (2012). Inscription of the elements is generally seen to have contributed to a new awareness at the national level, particularly among young people, of the elements and of intangible cultural heritage in general. The Canto a tenore element has increased the sense of self-worth of the practitioners and is creating more opportunities for singing and forming groups. The Opera dei Pupi element has increased the number of theatrical performances and stimulated the promotion of traditional crafts related to the element. One of the main consequences of the Mediterranean Diet inscription has been to give local communities a deeper sense of the cultural roots of their region while also stimulating international awareness. Inscription of Traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona supports efforts by the luthiers of Cremona to safeguard and enhance appreciation of their work. Communities and their organizations were consulted during the preparation of the report.