INCIPIT VITA NOVA - the Sala degli Archi reopens in the Fortezza Nuova. A sign of things to come?

The 17th-century Fortezza Nuova, Livorno The 17th-century Fortezza Nuova, Livorno 26th April 2013

At 6pm on Saturday 27th April 2013, the Sala degli Archi, one of the rooms inside Livorno's early-17th century Fortezza Nuova, will be reopened following its restoration. The beautiful vaulted space is the perfect setting for events and exhibitions and will in fact begin its new life by hosting a personal exhibition by artist Vittorio Corsini, from Cecina, fittingly entitled INCIPIT VITA NOVA, a quote from Dante meaning "Here begins a new life".

The whole of the Medici fortress has been closed since 2009 because of a lack of funds to maintain the building. Last week, however, it was announced by Livorno's local council that the Fortezza Nuova, which contains a public park, affords stunning views over the surrounding fossi, and is a fantastic venue for events, will be completely reopened to the public "by the end of this year".

The newly-restored Sala degli Archi in the Fortezza Nuova The newly-restored Sala degli Archi in the Fortezza Nuova Just a few days ago an article in the local newspaper Il Tirreno reported the beginning of new work to restore the old Jewish cemetery in Via Ippolito Nievo, and on 20th April the 17th-century Chiesa della Madonna in Via della Madonna was inaugurated following the completion of a year's restoration project. Earlier this year, in January, the first stone was laid in Piazza del Luogo Pio by Livorno's mayor Alessandro Cosimi to mark the beginning of the construction of the future museum of the city of Livorno. In addition, last year more than 24000 signatures were collected in support of the crumbling Dutch Church on the Scali Olandesi.

Work in Piazza del Luogo Pio, towards the museum of the city of Livorno Work in Piazza del Luogo Pio, towards the museum of the city of Livorno Perhaps I'm too naive and optimistic, but I can't help feeling uplifted by these recent developments. It really seems as though efforts are finally being made to restore and reopen some of Livorno's most important buildings and sites. And this is significant not only because of the importance of these places to the city's history: restoring Livorno's historic fortresses, churches, villas and cemeteries means putting them back in the public eye and making people - local inhabitants and visitors alike -  aware of their value to the city and consequently of the city's worth. One of Livorno's great weaknesses in the past half a century has been to seem to forget its past. Little has been done, until now, to preserve the cultural heritage Livorno possesses, let alone to enhance and promote it.

At the inauguration of the Sala degli Archi tomorrow afternoon I therefore really hope to see the whole of Livorno there to celebrate this small but significant event as something more than just a new exhibition space. I hope to see everyone enthusiastically hailing it as the start of "a new life" for the city. I really really do.

For details of the exhibition by Vittorio Corsini click here