The works of Castelvecchio come home. Now spare us the rhetoric

The paintings stolen from the Castelvecchio Museum in November 2015 are coming home. We are happy, but not satisfied.

At last, thelast of the many promiseddates for the return of the Castelvecchio paintings has been met, and the works are finally back in Italy: first stolen in Verona from the Castelvecchio Museum in November 2015, they were then found in May of this year, only to meet with disinterest from Italian institutions, with the result that the paintings have spent more time in the hands of Ukrainian institutions (in Ukraine they were in fact found) than among those of the thieves.

With Matteo Renzi’s resignation, the requirement to match his agenda with that of his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko to organize the restitution ceremony has disappeared. So today the minister of cultural heritage, Dario Franceschini, and the mayor of Verona, Flavio Tosi, were in Kiev for the return operations, which took place in the presence of Ukrainian premier Poroshenko. Of course, we are all very happy that the paintings have finally returned and find the walls of their museum again after more than a year of absence, and we are grateful to those who took action to close one of the ugliest pages that has affected our cultural heritage. However, we have one request: let politics spare us the rhetoric. Around the Castelvecchio paintings there has been an affair of political insipience, sloppiness and neglect that probably has no equal in the history of Italian cultural heritage, if we think of the importance of the stolen paintings.

We hope that Franceschini, who on the Castelvecchio affair has accustomed us to very long silences, will be consistent with his previous choices and spare us the usual outbursts, the usual platitudes from expressions of “lively and vibrant satisfaction,” and the whole repertoire of catchphrases that accompany events like the one we witnessed today. We are happy, but not satisfied: it took months and months of waiting for the paintings to return to Italy, there were collections of signatures, even a denunciation, admittedly little more than symbolic or tout-court symbolic, but nonetheless indicative of an enormous discontent that has accompanied the whole affair and we hope will not be erased by the good news of the return. Because the best way to honor these paintings will be to keep well in mind how we behaved in their absence to make sure that similar situations do not happen again.

I dipinti rubati dal Museo di Castelvecchio a Verona

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