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Cultural heritage and its role in the social, economic and leisure aspects of our lives have recently become increasingly mentioned and investigated topics by scholars and policy-makers across different countries and disciplines. Similarly, in the last 20 years, creativity has increasingly been the subject of studies and debates from many and varied perspectives. The discussion on the possible effects of this intangible and multifaceted factor on economic development has been growing steadily, involving an extremely diversified audience at both the academic and the political levels.

This book is concerned with the territorial exploration of the relationship between cultural heritage and economic development and proposes an innovative view according to which cultural heritage can have an impact on local performance when catalysed by a creative environment. This approach is fundamental from both an economic policy and conservation, valorization and restoration perspectives. It is the result of research I conducted at the Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering (ABC) Department of the Politecnico di Milano, where I am part of the Regional and Urban Economics research group. The value added of my work, and that of my group, is to integrate and widen the conservation and valorization approach of colleagues in the department with an economic dimension.

The multidisciplinary scientific environment where I work provided me with the right mix of intellectual stimuli. In fact, my deepest gratitude goes to the economists Roberto Camagni and Roberta Capello at the ABC Department. They contributed with invaluable suggestions, outstanding competence and indefatigable enthusiasm. They also provided – with their everyday work and long-standing experience – a motivating and instructive environment. This, of course, includes the whole group of regional and urban economists, to whom I am also indebted.

Within the ABC Department, I am also grateful for comments and advice to colleague experts in restoration and conservation. In particular, I would like to mention Stefano Della Torre and Daniele Fanzini for their rich suggestions, which helped me to deepen parts of this study, especially in the field of cultural values and policy interventions.

To Rocco Mosconi at the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering of the Politecnico di Milano goes my sincere thanks for the support in applying econometric techniques.

Alessandra Faggian at Gran Sasso Science Institute and Rafael Boix Domènech at the Universitat de València also provided useful comments on a preliminary version of the book.

Finally, unconditional thankfulness goes to my greatest source of strength: my family.

Silvia Cerisola

Milan, October 2018