Since 1432, Italy has been campaigning for the protection of its cultural heritage, for example through a duty to report and a state right of first refusal for the discovery and sale of antiquities.

What is considered cultural property in Italy?

The cultural property includes objects of paleontological, pre- and early historical, numismatic interest, manuscripts, autographs, letters, incunabula, books, prints, engravings and matrices, maps, scores, photographs, film strips, sound and image carriers as well as immovable objects. Some objects are under special protection, for example works of art created more than 70 years ago by artists who are no longer alive, photos and films older than 25 years, as well as over 75-year-old means of transport and over 50-year-old goods, equipment and instruments of historical, scientific or technical interest.

What are the export regulations?

Cultural property in state, church and other collections is under a general export ban. In the case of privately owned cultural property, the Ministry of Cultural Property and Cultural Activities decides to what extent an export ban applies.

What sanctions are there?

The Code of Cultural and Landscape Property provides for criminal sanctions and fines if the relevant regulations are violated. This is regulated in Articles 165, 166 and 174.

Chronology of cultural property protection laws

  • 1425
    – 1802
    Papal bulls
    Päpstliche Verordnungen als erste Maßnahmen zum Antikenschutz
  • 1820
    Regulation of the National Commission of Fine Arts
    Reporting obligations and the state’s right of first refusal in case of discovery and sale of antiquities
  • 1909
    Law 364 (legge Rosadi)
    Regulation of the management of state cultural property
  • 1939
    Law No. 1089 (legge Bottai)
    Definition of what cultural property is to be protected and stricter reporting requirements
  • 1958
    The Hague Convention of 1954
    Protection of the cultural property of countries in the event of armed conflict
  • 1978
    UNESCO 1970 Convention
    Means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property
  • 2004
    – 2017
    Decree No. 42
    Regulations on the protection and use of cultural and landscape property
  • 2009
    Hague Convention, Second Protocol of 1999
    Clarification and extension of the 1954 Hague Convention