On Sept. 6 and 7, an Italian delegation visited Odesa to examine the sites destroyed by Russian attacks and start a dialogue with local authorities. Leading the delegation were Stefano Boeri, president of Triennale design museum of Milan, and Alessandro Giuli, president of the MAXXI contemporary art museum of Rome. With them was also Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi, the director of UNESCO desk for Ukraine, Pier Francesco Zazo, the Italian ambassador to Kyiv.

Ambassador Davide La Cecilia, leader of the Italy-Ukraine Task Force created by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “Italy already showed a strong commitment to the reconstruction of Ukraine, organizing the conference in Rome in April 2023 with Italian and Ukrainian companies and institutions. We are developing the idea of rebuilding all the damage suffered by the city of Odesa, through a multi-year process.”

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After meetings with representatives of the Odesa City Council of the Odesa Regional Administration, the delegation visited the Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration, hit by a Russian rocket on the night of July 23, which will be the first objective of the restoration operations promoted by the Italian Government in the port city on Black Sea.

Faced with the rubble of the cathedral roof, the architect Stefano Boeri, creator of the iconic “Vertical Forest” in Milan, said: “this is a first inspection for the restoration of a symbolic building of the city damaged by a Russian missile. We will bring the Italian experience to rebuild Odesa, an extraordinary city with synagogues, Catholic, Armenian and Greek Byzantine churches, which shows the variety of cultures of Ukraine.”

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani had declared to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba during the European summit in Toledo on  Aug. 31 that Italy would invest its experience and resources to create a laboratory for the reconstruction of Ukraine. This is why prestigious institutions such as MAXXI and Triennale have been involved, having already worked on restoration operations in cities seriously damaged by natural disasters, such as the 2016 earthquake in Amatrice, Italy.

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Regarding the Italian Government’s project, MAXXI president Alessandro Giuli added: “Italy brings first of all the spirit of brotherhood with Ukraine, to which it is linked above all through Odesa, and secondly its experience in restoration. A project aimed not only at the physical reconstruction of Ukraine, but somehow at the internal reconstruction of Europe.”

The project aims for Italy to assume patronage of the city of Odesa, whose historic center was included several months ago in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The choice of the maritime capital of Ukraine is determined by the strong historical link between Italy and Odesa, which was built thanks to the work of Italian entrepreneurs who came from the Kingdom of Naples to the shores of the Black Sea around the time of its foundation in 1794.

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