“La Culture italienne à Bruxelles assassinée” (“The Italian culture in Brussels murdered”). That’s the title of an article published on the website of the Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique on March 13. A title launching a denunciation clearly argued in the text which follows and targeting a questionable choice of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The latter has decided to sell the historical building situated in rue de Livourne 38, which is nowadays the site of the Italian Cultural Institute. [By Luisa Garofalo].
The current location is in “a wonderful maison de maître” situated “in the heart of Brussels”. It was built “in the last decades of the Nineteenth century and it became in 1932 […] the Casa d’Italia“, also “thanks to the initiative” of some Italian enterprises, like “Olivetti, Fiat and Pirelli” (il Fatto Quotidiano.it).
The Institute represented and represents a very important place for the Italian culture in Brussels. It houses different rooms decorated by various Italian artists, a huge room for the conferences and a theatre for 350 persons. There is also “an amazing library” containing “around 18,000 books”.
The offices will be moved to “rue Joseph II, street number 24”, in a building bought by the Italian government from Monte dei Paschi bank for around “€13,5 million”. A purchase interpreted by someone also as an economic aid to the mentioned Italian bank (ibidem).
A petition has been launched and addressed to the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfano in order to make the Istituto Italiano di Cultura remain in its Brussels historical building. The petition is also present on Change.org and is earning important support in Italy and Belgium (including by academics).