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Italy at the forefront for the reconstruction of Odessa and its cathedral

TOLEDO – The President of MAXXI, Alessandro Giuli, and the President of the Triennale di Milano, Stefano Boeri, will be in Odessa on 6-7 September to hold talks with the local authorities and survey the destroyed sites, starting with the Transfiguration Cathedral. They will be joined by UNESCO’s Representative to Ukraine, Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi, and Italian Ambassador Pier Francesco Zazo.

The initiative was presented this morning by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, to his EU colleagues and to Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmitro Kuleba, during the EU summit in Toledo. The Italian Minister’s new Special Envoy for Reconstruction in Ukraine, Davide La Cecilia, will also be in Odessa.

The visit is part of an initiative by the Triennale and MAXXI, supported by Italy’s Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and Ministry of Culture, to set up a Workshop on the Reconstruction of Ukraine. As part of Italy’s dedication to the protection and preservation of the world’s cultural heritage, the project aims to bring together Italian and international cultural institutions, architectural and engineering firms, and companies and economic actors to discuss the urban and architectural regeneration of Ukraine’s cities and cultural heritage, creating a European hub for reconstruction that focuses on social infrastructures such as schools and cultural institutions.

Architect Stefano Boeri explained that “we are going to Odessa to offer our skills in order to reconstruct various architectural assets affected by the war. This will be an initial survey mission, and we will immediately begin with an inspection of the cathedral; we have mobilised the Italian Society for Architectural Conservation/Restoration. The aim is to reconstruct the architecture of Odessa to start rebuilding a sense of normalcy in a nation that deserves peace”.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation together with MAXXI and the Triennale will organise an event in Milan on 31 October 2023 to launch the Workshop project with the participation of the Ukrainian government and cultural and economic stakeholders.

The initiative could lead to Italy’s taking patronage over the reconstruction of the city of Odessa, whose historic centre was recently included, with Italy’s decisive support, in the UNESCO World Heritage List. There are numerous reasons in favour of this choice: from Odessa’s strong historical ties to Italy since its foundation, to the long-standing presence of a large and influential Italian community in the city, to its twinnings with Genoa and Venice. The presence of port infrastructures in the city makes it a crucial transit point in terms of trade, including trade to safeguard world food security to which Italy is actively committed.

Support for the reconstruction of Ukraine will be one of the priorities of Italy’s G7 Presidency next year. This will be achieved also through the organisation of the Ukraine Recovery Conference in 2025, with the aim of laying the foundations for a prosperous and independent Ukraine within the EU family.


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