Those lucky ducks. Italians who turn 18 in the next year get 500 euros (worth around $565) as a birthday present from their government. There is one catch though: The teens have to spend it on "culture." What does that mean, exactly? It includes music and books, tickets to a concert or theater performance, or entry into a museum, national park or archaeological park. (Italy has plenty of ancient sites, that's for sure.)
The funds will be available through an app called "18app" and about 574,000 Italians and permanent residents in Italy will be eligible to receive it.
The program has a few aims: The government wants to encourage consumption of cultural products so that young people know that it is an important part of being Italian. As Undersecretary Thomas Nannicini told Corriere Della Sera newspaper, according to The Local. "18app sends a clear message: That of a community that welcomes you once you come of age. [This cultural consumption] is for your personal enrichment and to strengthen the social fabric of the country."
Beyond the basic limitations of the program, teens can spend the money on whatever they like, so it could be a single book-buying spree, or a year's worth of movie tickets, tickets to a show and the complete collection of one's favorite band, or any combination of the above. It's really up to the teenagers, who have until the end of 2017 to spend the money through the app.
Following the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi mentioned that the country would be putting aside 2 million euros to fight terrorism, but also for other aims. "The Italian way is to spend a euro [on] culture for every euro spent on security," he said at the time.
Now Italians know exactly what Renzi meant, and young Italians are no doubt plotting how to spend their new funds. I know at that age, I would have spent it all on tickets to concerts and books (and maybe a museum or two). What a positive and enriching gift to the young people of Italy.