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Italy for the reconstruction of Ukraine: working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Triennale and MAXXI in Odessa to rebuild the Transfiguration Cathedral and the city’s cultural heritage

The Italian Ambassador to Ukraine, Pier Francesco Zazo, and the Special Envoy for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, Davide La Cecilia, are today on a mission to Odessa together with the President of the Triennale, architect Stefano Boeri, the President of MAXXI, Alessandro Giuli, the Mayor of Odessa, Gennadiy Trukhanov, and the Head of the UNESCO Desk in Ukraine, Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi. The visit is part of an initiative by the Triennale and MAXXI, supported by Italian Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Ministry of Culture, to set up a Workshop on the Reconstruction of Ukraine.

Odessa is a city that “has been strongly influenced by Italian culture and is part of our identity”, said Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani, pointing out that “the founder of the city and the architect who designed its urban layout were Italian”. “The Italian Government has the duty to lead the immediate and future reconstruction of Ukraine.”

Starting from this assumption, “we believe that our country can take patronage over the reconstruction of the city of Odessa,” added La Cecilia, “we have already received positive feedback from the authorities in Kiev.”

The reconstruction project provides for work to restore the Transfiguration Cathedral to begin before moving on to restore the more than fifty buildings of high architectural value that were damaged by bombing.

“Odessa is a city deeply wounded in the soul,” said the Italian Ambassador to Ukraine Pier Francesco Zazo, highlighting the strong symbolic value of the landmarks and recalling: “I visited the Cathedral the morning after the missile attack. Nobody expected that Russia would directly attack cultural, religious and historical sites”.

Architect Boeri explained how today’s meetings between Italian architectural restoration technicians and local technicians will allow the first surveys to be carried out. “Italy’s restoration tradition is a reality of excellence, and the synergies with the Triennale and MAXXI will enable the city’s rebirth to be given a boost,” stressed Boeri.

“Italian cultural actors have all mobilised since the early stages of the invasion of Ukraine, but now we are creating a full-scale global project,” pointed out the President of MAXXI, Alessandro Giuli. A technical and creative laboratory and a restoration project involving a plurality of cultural institutions and architecture studios will be set up.

The reconstruction process is an integral part of the all-round support offered by the Italian Government to Kiev. Odessa is a special place, to which Italy is connected for many reasons. The synergies created with Rome’s and Odessa’s candidacies for Expo 2030 reflect precisely the countries’ common history and values.

It seems difficult to talk about reconstruction even while the war is still raging. What Italy is doing is planning for the future, boosting Ukraine’s reconstruction. Working now on the reconstruction also means giving hope to the population that a better future will come.

Talking about reconstruction means bringing about a great economic mobilisation. More than 1,000 Italian and Ukrainian companies attended the Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine organised by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome on 26 April. Italy’s entire economic system, starting with the infrastructure sector, is committed to the cause.

Thanks to the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit that characterises Italy, we will be able to make a tangible contribution to the reconstruction. We will start from the architectural and engineering sectors, to create synergies between Ukrainian, Italian and international companies and institutions so as to establish the first European hub for reconstruction. A “build back better” logic will guide this “hub”, in line with the Ukrainian idea of reconstruction under the banner of green and digital transition.