Luigi de Magistris was elected Mayor of Naples in May 2011. Previously, as a Member of the European Parliament,he served as President of the Commission on Budgetary Control and worked on issues such as transparency of investment fund allocation and human rights violations. He talks to us about Naples as the host city for IAC 2012.

What does it mean to the city of Naples, and the surrounding region, that the International Astronautical Congress is being held here this year?

I am very proud and happy that the 63rd IAC is taking place in my city. Naples has an important tradition in the aerospace industry and its metropolitan area hosts 7,000 aerospace industry employees and many of the industry’s leading companies. Moreover, the Universities of Naples are renowned in the field of aerospace engineering. I am particularly proud that Naples is the hometown of the late Professor Luigi G. Napolitano, a former president of the IAF. His heritage demonstrates that our city is deeply committed to the aerospace industry and I believe the IAC will open up new opportunities. Naples has embraced this conference with enthusiasm and the city is getting ready to host the Congress in the best possible way. I am sure that it will be not only a successful scientific congress, but also a ‘flywheel’ for the development of tourism and employment. I am also convinced that Naples can show its better face to the world.

What can delegates and other IAC visitors expect to enjoy about this particular IAC, given its location?

Naples is full of hidden treasures and is rich in history and culture. Its historical centre – listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site - is endowed with a maze of picturesque alleys enriched with graceful monuments,baroque churches and archaeological ruins dating back to the Ancient Greeks who founded our town. Naples flaunts its exceptional setting on the waterfront of via Caracciolo, from where visitors can enjoy the beauty of the sea, the beach and the islands of the Gulf of Naples. One can also enjoy a vibrant atmosphere and experience the dolce vita in the streets, strolling from a cafeteria to a pizzeria. Last but not least, Naples is both the home-town of the pizza and considered to be the place to experience the best espresso in Italy.

Are there any specific local initiatives or attractions being organised for this year’s IAC?

Naples is a culturally vibrant city, full of theatres, music venues, sport events, museums and art galleries. During the 63rd IAC, special exhibitions will take place at the fortress of Maschio Angioino, while the waterfront of via Caracciolo (which is usually an open stage for musicians and buskers) will be the amazing setting for musical and sporting events.

How would you summarise the opportunity offered to Naples and the wider region in hosting an international congress such as the IAC?

We have the chance to show the world the image of the Neapolitan Renaissance we are building, via television, the press, the Internet and social networks. It will be an amazing opportunity and I am looking forward to it!