Italy has two police corps: the polizia and the carabinieri. The polizia are the state police while the carabinieri is part of the army. They get their name from the traditional carabina rifle that they used to carry and have been a longer lifespan than Italy itself. Most of the carabinieri come from Southern Italy, specifically the regions of Campania, Sicily, Calabria, Puglia. These regions are the same ones that the four major mafia organizations call home. So the people who come from these regions obviously have an interest in this kind of work. According to an interview of a carabinieri made my BBC, the sense of justice and rivalsa (payback or retaliation) is what motivates people to join.
Within the carabinieri, a special section called the Tricolor Safeguard was established in 1969with the purpose of tackling illegal exports of cultural assets. It is a team made up of art historians, scientists, and archaeologists. In 1990s it expanded. Due to their high reputation, today the Tricolor Safeguard is hired out by foreign powers for international cases.
La Tutela Tricolare: I Custodi dell’Identità Culturale is an exhibit that informs about the Tricolor Safeguard and showcases artworks from individual cases. The exhibit is currently at the Uffizi Gallery’s new exhibition room.Our teacher gave us a little introduction to the exhibit before going inside.
I was uninterested and a little upset. I thought the idea of the exhibit was not very deep and just so typical of Italian art museums. I thought that the reason for this exhibit was just to make an excuse for bringing out old works from storage that hadn’t seen daylight in a few decades.
But my whole mood changed when I read this final sentence under the heading “Reason for this Exhibit”:
“Protecting our artistic assets and our environment stimulates tourism in the loftiest sense of the term, fostering cultural exchange and the spread of ideas among the people of the world.”
I had always assumed that there was a sort of nationalistic pride behind the desire to protect and preserve Italian art. But there’s a whole other reason… It’s not about protecting, restoring, and investing in the safekeeping of artwork from Italy for the sake of preserving a heritage to be proud of. Preserving and maintaining something to be known for and recognized for. Rather it is about preserving it for the sake of everyone’s educational experience. For the benefit of future generations.