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Siena is in! On the 15th November 2013, Italy's ministry of Culture has announced Siena as one of the six finalist cities of ECoC 2019.

Out of the 21 Italian competitors in the first round, the bid books of Siena, Perugia/Assisi, Ravenna, Lecce/Brindisi, Cagliari and Matera have been the most convincing to the jury. The six finalists have worked on their proposal for years and will have to meticulously fine-tune their cultural and economic projects during the next 12 months.  

Torre del Mangia and Siena's roofs seen from the Pinacoteca Nazionale museum
Welcome to Siena. One of the six official candidate cities for ECoC2019

The jury of ECoC 2019 is made up of six Italian and seven European members. The 13 jurors have spent the last two months looking through the bid books and are going to provide each candidate city with a specific list of areas to work on. 

The second and last round of the European contest is going to be an extremely competitive one. The bid books of the participants are all highly interesting and a lot is at stake for each and every of the six Italian cities and the respective province and region they belong to.

Whatever the outcome of the competition, the creative input and the thought-trough projects are manna from heaven for Italy's ailing contemporary cultural and stagnating economy. The designated Italian Capital of Culture 2019 will be known towards the end of 2014, but whoever the winner, the work and input of each candidate cities (also of some of the ones which didn't make it in the last round) will be fertile ground for the country's desperately needed transition into the 21st century.

For more information on the single projects, browse the websites of the shortlisted cities. Or - if you have some time at hand - check out the map of the ECoC 2019 finalists below and visit the candidate cities in person to watch the cultural transformation happening all through Italy right now: 

It will also be interesting to follow up on the projects of some of the competitors, which haven't made it into round two. Hopefully, the time and resources cities like Palermo or Aquila have invested into their bid book will bear fruit nevertheless. 

Italy will share the title in 2019 together with a city from Bulgaria. Eight cities have joined the race to become Bulgaria's European Capital of Culture 2019. The two ECoC cities of 2019 will be officially proclaimed in May 2015.  

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