Cities are today home to more than half of the world’s population and to three quarters of its economic activity. It is at local level that culture and creativity are primarily lived and practiced on a daily basis. Consequently, urban areas have become the main breeding grounds for the development of new initiatives aimed at making culture and creativity a driving force for sustainable development.

With these facts in mind, UNESCO launched the Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in 2004. The objective is to promote cooperation among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development in the following fields: Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts.

Cities that join the network commit to stimulating innovation and to promoting social cohesion and inter-cultural dialogue – as well as to sharing their best practices with civil society and with the public and private sectors.

As of September 2015, 69 members from 32 countries form the network. Italy features three creative cities in the UCCN: Fabriano, Turin and Bologna. Let’s find out why they are part of the UNESCO network.


Fabriano: Craft and Folk Arts

Fabriano, located in the region of Le Marche, has been a historic city of painters, blacksmiths and master paper makers (Mastri chartai) since the 12th century. Recognized internationally for its rich crafts stemming from a very old tradition and great savoir-faire, it is still today a dynamic handicraft center.

Fabriano hosts numerous cultural events like Poïesis, the annual festival of art, poetry, music, theater and cinema. It also features an important cultural infrastructure, including the Paper Museum, the multimedia library, the Museum of the Piano and the Picture Gallery.

One of the most interesting projects on which Fabriano is working is the creation of the International Centre of Watercolor (Centro Internazionale dell’Acquarello) for housing restoration workshops and promoting the artistic use of handmade paper.

Fabriano: one of Italy's UNESCO Creative Cities

Commemoration of ancient craftsmaship (photo by Matteo Mingarelli) and Artisans at work (photo from


Enjoy Fabriano with your Senses: TOUCH

Rediscover traditional crafts and products of excellence by joining exclusive workshops in ancient Textura (or Gothic) calligraphy, serigraphy and bookbinding. The Museum of Paper and Watermark organizes intensive courses on “Paper, Print and Book”, to explore the world of papermaking, watermark-making, intaglio printmaking, marbling and leather binding with the instruction of Italian masters. There are also didactic labs specifically studied for children!


Turin: Design

Since the late nineteenth century, Turin has been one of Italy’s primary industrial centers with the rise of the steel, mechanic, chemical, textile and automobile industries, which have dominated the city’s development for almost a century. Over the past few decades, the city has successfully transformed itself from an industrial center to a creative hub.

Piedmont’s capital city boasts renowned artists and cutting-edge institutions, training institutes and universities. Turin also provides incentives to support the mobility of artists and creative professionals, offers scholarships and high-profile awards and promotes international exchange programs.

Turin pays special attention to fostering the creative potential of the city’s youth. Among its current projects are the creation of a design contest open to young artists and designers from cities in the UCCN.

Italian UNESCO creative cities: Turin, design city

Exhibition building at Lingotto Fiere and period car with design sketches – images from Archivio Turismo Torino and Lingotto Fiere


Enjoy Turin with your Senses:  SIGHT

Join a design journey through amazing museums, institutes and festivals. Depending on when you visit, you will be able to join events such as the Operae Independent Design Festival (in 2015 it takes place from 06 to 08 November). The Mirafiori Design Center at the Politecnico di Torino organizes design laboratories and workshops. At the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile, you can learn about the history of Italian cars and the evolution of the designs of vehicles.


Bologna: Music

The University of Bologna, capital of the Emilia Romagna region, is the oldest university of the Western (1088), and it was first university in Italy to establish a degree in music and performing arts.

Rooted in the city’s glorious past, music is particularly relevant in Bologna today given the presence of leading institutions such as the opera house Teatro Comunale, the Conservatory dedicated to Father Martini, and the Philharmonic Academy.

Bologna stands out for its widespread promotion of the music sector, which is celebrated in a series of renowned International Festivals. Additionally, the remarkable classical music seasons, the contemporary music and jazz music program and children-targeted initiatives as well as the song-writers, rock-bands and other musicians who flock to the city.

Bologna UNESCO creative city for Music

Street Musicians in Piazza Maggiore and the Teatro Comunale – photos from


Enjoy Bologna with your Senses: SOUND

Visit the International Music Library and Museum and be mesmerized by its itineraries through entertaining storytelling. One example? “A Martini for Mozart: an examination, three tasks and one mistery”, i.e. the story of how Mozart met Father Giambattista Martini (a great theorist and composer) in Bologna in 1770. The museum also hosts over one hundred portraits of renowned personalities from the world of music, and more than eighty antique musical instruments. Music festivals are available at different times of the year, including a fest to celebrate an unusual instrument such as the Ocarina! Even the vibrating rumble of cars will delight your ears in occasion of the Bologna Motor Show.


Have you ever visited a UNESCO Creative City – in Italy or abroad – and participated in activities related to Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts? Share your experiences and thoughts below!

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