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Tutti frutti

Italy boasts more than two thirds of the west's artistic heritage, but Italians do not read books or go to the theatre.

By Andrew Hill   July 1996

Italy’s rapid economic growth in the 1960s and 1970s was accompanied by another almost unnoticed phenomenon: the purchase of pianofortes. Upwardly mobile Italian families imported saloon-bar uprights and boudoir grands by the thousand-new and second hand, majestic Steinways and obscure east European marques-to stand in front rooms from Bolzano to Bari.

Untuned and often unplayed, most of these status symbols are now falling apart. Talk to an Italian piano tuner about these orphaned instruments and you are likely to receive a lecture on Italian cultural priorities: “Ask for 2m lire to refurbish a piano and you are turned down flat;…

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