Liguria Heritage: an innovative project for the development of the cultural resources of Liguria
Renzo Guccinelli

When, in 2007, we started to plan the way we would used European financing dedicated to economic development for 2007-2013, in partnership with the Economic Development Department of the Liguria Region, we were inspired by a new and slightly risky idea. For lovers of officialise this involved the definition of the Por-Fesr 2007-2013, that we decided to structure in four intervention axes.

The first two, a little more classic but not less important or innovative, are designed to improve the competitiveness of the fabric of regional production, through the promotion and diffusion of innovative processes. We decided to dedicate the third and the fourth to the territory, as the infrastructural foundation for the creation of development, with the territory the platform for this growth. Whilst with the third we have financed very important logistical infrastructural projects, with the fourth I believe we have implemented the highest level of innovation. We decided to invest in wide-ranging cultural heritage in Liguria as the driving force for economic growth.

In other words, we have decided to commit to the concept that “Culture is the essence of life”. We have obviously implemented a series and criteria and choices, without which the objective could not be realised. The historical and environmental patrimony can promote development only if precise and appropriate guidelines are adopted that we have set for ourselves and pursued. First of all, that which became Level 4 of Por Fesr, could not have been created by a series of localised regional decisions, but only as the result of significant project co-participation between local administrations.

For this reason we asked the Province to coordinate the territory's project proposals, stimulating a number of subjects to adopt such an approach. 90% of the projects were provided by the Local Governments, but not only from these authorities. We asked the provinces to follow precise cultural guidelines, aimed at promoting certain dominant aspects of Ligurian uniqueness and to construct a model that would preserve the homogeneity of a “regional network” of cultural resources. Last, but not least, it was clear that the project should not focus on the recovery of the sites in themselves, but rather the potential to impact the territory and particularly on the de-seasonality of tourism.

Stabilised with an appropriate tender procedure along with the projects, it was immediately evident that a regionally-based project was required that would overcome an obvious general shortcoming in prospective: that of promotion and enhancement, necessary actions that are more effective if implemented on a wide scale.

At this point, charting a course, we decided to continue to focus on innovation and never lost sight of this objective. We adopted a different approach in deciding to entrust the planning and execution of this project to the regional finance authority, namely FILSE, a body that is concerned with the economic development of the territories. The "Liguria Heritage" project came into being in this manner. 
We continued to adopt an innovative approach setting ourselves an ambitious aim, and I believe an original objective in terms of the relationship between public interventions and cultural resources. We tried to answer the question “we have restored monuments but why should tourists and citizens, in short the end-users, visit them?”

This apparently obvious question was placed at the centre of the project. We decided that the somewhat limited resources should serve to provide the answer in terms of usability, and the determination of valid reasons for the use of these monuments. In fact, only with the end-users, who are actually present in the territories, can the economic objectives of growth at the basis of all our efforts be seen. An economy for tourism, artisanship and the agro-alimentary sector and the rest is created.

We were immediately directed towards the use of ICT – information and communication technology that can create an appropriate and effective rapport between entertainment and culture, learning, and emotion - a word that has recently appeared in the context of the enhancement of cultural resources.

All of this had a practical impact: we could not adopt the standard drip-feed financing approach as this would not permit the achievement of our goals. We preferred to indicated the priorities and develop the project on three levels.

To start with we identified the promotional and enhancement interventions that we would implement for all the relative sites. Secondly we identified the first significantly ICT content: we would create and make freely available on the project portal and the special APPs for mobiles and tablets more than 30 audio-guides on an equal number of castles in Liguria, from Sarzanello to Dolceacqua, moving from the Fieschi castles of Genoa to those of Clavesana and the Carretto of Ponente. The end-users, even on the spot, can download the applications and audio files in mp3 format to listen to with their own readers at their own ease.

Finally, on a "superior" level, we find the augmented reality applications. Directly on their tablets, or on those supplied in four locations in Liguria - Luni, Montoggio, Noli and Annunziata Fort - an archaeological area at Ventimiglia, tourists can interact via avatars , with historical figures involved in the events of these locations and by listening to their story can come to understand the background of the monuments. The figures involved range from Gerolamo Fieschi in Montoggio to Enrico del Carretto in Noli and so on. Every site would include a number of figures and extensive multi-media content. We are certain however, in proposing the last element of innovation that the key to efficiency of the project will not be in technology but in our ability to tell the story of these cultural resources, involving, stimulating and generating interest in users.

Obviously all of this is available to regional and local system of tourist promotion, with which we are working to unite synergy, projects and actions.

Renzo Guccinelli