The first 25 years of the Bmta: from the UNESCO inscription of Paestum to the Catacombs of Italy

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On 5 December 1998 in Kyoto, Japan, the Word Heritage Center inscribed the archaeological area of ​​Paestum in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. A few weeks earlier, from 12 to 14 November, the intuition of the Mediterranean Archaeological Tourism Exchange came to fruition with the first edition.

The event found precisely in those who had been the protagonists, in opposing camps, of the candidacy (“The cultural landscapes of the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park – to which the Alburni district has also recently been added – with the emergencies archaeological sites of Paestum and Velia and with the Certosa di Padula”) its ambassadors: Alfonso Andria president of the Province of Salerno and Mounir Bouchenaki then director of the World Heritage Centre, then deputy director for culture of UNESCO and later director of Iccrom, awarded honorary citizenship of Capaccio Paestum in 2013 and honorary president of the BMTA from 2021.

In truth, the official presentation in February 1998 at the BIT in Milan had aroused great anticipation and great interest among operators and the specialized press, as it was the first and only event in the world, designed above all to promote the archaeological destinations of all continents, contribute to deseasonalisation, food
intercultural dialogue.

The initiative was therefore born,
in the South, where it is not easy to build concrete operational models in favor of the tourist offer with particular reference to the attraction represented by the cultural heritage. But up until 2019, she had twenty-two years of precariousness: first in the rooms dedicated to weddings at the two largest local hotel structures, or hosted in cold rooms and agricultural sheds cleared for the occasion, then among geodesic domes and marquees. Until the long-awaited turning point arrives, when in 2018 the President of the Region Vincenzo De Luca finally gives the BMTA its legitimacy, inserting it into the official international calendar of the body
and in 2021 the councilor for Simplification and Tourism Felice Casucci gives it administrative dignity, treating it not only in the same way as other tourism fairs, in which the Campania Region participates with an exhibition space, but enriching its contents.

Finally, in 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, a volcanic Mayor, Franco Alfieri, acquired the former Cafasso tobacco factory from a bankruptcy trustee, redeveloping it in two months and inaugurating it with the XXIII edition of the BMTA, magnified among the greatest expressions of industrial archeology of the Sele Plain by Gillo Dorfles. In recent years the BMTA has increasingly become a hub for good practices in the name of experiential and sustainable tourism, such as making railway stations in internal areas, rich in archaeological sites, sustainable intermodal hubs; nominate a European cultural itinerary of underwater archaeological sites to the Council of Europe; rediscover underground archaeology, starting
from the “Catacombs of Italy”, a project curated by the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology presided over until last year
by Cardinal Ravasi.

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