Refurbishment of abandoned building into new auditorium for Salerno

Backed by EU funding, a project to refurbish the abandoned La Villetta building within the Umberto I complex in the city of Salerno in southern Italy’s Campania region has led to the creation of a new auditorium. The restored building also includes two smaller rooms, a recording studio and an underground car park.

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" Thanks to good use of EU funds, Salerno’s historical centre has been the object of an extraordinary urban regeneration programme which, together with the recovery of numerous historical buildings, has brought business, residents and cultural activity back to an area abandoned by people after the 1980 earthquake. In this context, the works at the Umberto I complex, which overlooks the historical centre, assume particular relevance. "

Vincenzo De Luca, former mayor of Salerno

The auditorium has a capacity of 350, while the two smaller rooms have 83 and 110 seats respectively. They can be used for concerts, conferences or other kinds of cultural or public event, and are all equipped with video-conference and interpretation systems. The building’s floor space totals 4000 m², spread over four levels.

A pedestrian piazza spanning 2000 m² has been developed next to La Villetta and is available for outdoor leisure and cultural activities, such as open-air concerts.

Links with the neighbourhood 

Finalisation of the spatial and functional layout of La Villetta was preceded by an in-depth study on possible links with activities in nearby buildings. These include the archives, the municipal library, the archaeological museum, Salerno’s medical school and the musical conservatory. The study was conducted on the basis of criteria aimed at ensuring that the space would be used in a rational and efficient way in line with safety requirements.

The work is a significant step towards the revitalisation of a part of Salerno’s historical centre that had been largely abandoned following the devastating earthquake in November 1980, which is believed to have killed around 3000 people. Development of cultural and artistic spaces like La Villetta is widely acknowledged as a prerequisite for urban regeneration. The entire Umberto I complex is characterised by structures with a high degree of historical and architectural significance and its ongoing restoration has the potential to make a vital contribution to this process.

Assets for attracting tourism

Overlooking the centre of Salerno, the Umberto I complex has already been the object of extensive restoration work – much of it supported by the EU. It has been home to the musical conservatory for decades and renovations there have led to the development of a modern environment for learning and concerts, resulting in raising the standard of training on offer.

At the same time, redevelopment of the complex has created various artistic and cultural venues, bringing an ever-more diverse programme of events to Salerno. A terrace with panoramic views has also been designed to attract businesses, such as catering outlets, boosting both the economy and job creation. In addition, the work has led to the unearthing of artefacts from the Byzantine period.

Capitalising on the assets of the complex will help to attract tourists. Campania already receives more visitors from abroad than any other region in southern Italy and has recently seen a rise in cultural tourism. This may be linked to social changes, including more leisure time and higher levels of education, while new trends in the tourist industry may also have played a part. Many people are replacing long annual holidays with short breaks at weekends or during public holidays. Furthermore, the reach of cultural events has been extended thanks to better publicity.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Refurbishment of the abandoned building ‘La Villetta’ within the ‘Umberto I’ complex, to create an Auditorium in the city of Salerno” is EUR 8 050 260, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 6 037 695 through the “Campania” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.


Draft date