Franco Punzi: An immeasurable loss, an extraordinary legacy

27 February 2023

It is with deep sadness that we learned that Franco Punzi passed away on 17 February 2023 at the age of 87. He was the Founder and longstanding President of the Festival della Valle d'Itria, which became a member of EFA in 1988. Franco Punzi was an incredible man: All our thoughts go to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Born on 4 April 1935, Franco Punzi was mayor of Martina Franca from 1972 to 1989. He was the first signatory of the founding act of the Centro Artistico Musicale (Artistic Music Centre) that gave birth to the Festival della Valle d'Itria di Martina Franca, Puzi’s most important legacy. Since 1980, he has been president of the 'Paolo Grassi' Artistic Music Centre and the Festival della Valle d'Itria.

The Festival della Valle d'Itria has become one of the most important festivals of classical music in Europe and joined the European Festivals Association in 1988 as a member. The festival will celebrate its 49th edition this Summer 2023. It will be strange for the many people who knew him to enter the Palazzo Ducale and not see this important figure this year, elegant, polite, greeting the public, and making sure that everything goes well.

Franco Punzi was definitely a men of culture: Since 2003, he has been President of the Paolo Grassi Foundation in Martina Franca and President of Italiafestival, the national organisation which brings together the major Italian festivals of music, theatre, dance, culture and cinema, for several years until 2014. He was Deputy Vice President for Live Entertainment of the Associazione Generale Italiana dello Spettacolo (AGIS) of Puglia and Basilicata and Deputy Vice President of the national Federmusica - AGIS.

As former leader of the ACLI, Franco Punzi assumed various administrative and political posts. A convinced pro-European, he has held highly prestigious roles, including President of the Italian Section of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (A.I.C.R.E.), member of the European Local Authorities Intergroup (Brussels), and member of the European Commission in the 'Solidarity with Third World Countries' programme.

Truly a person from another era! A true gentleman whom we got to know and appreciate and who believed in Italiafestival. We will always carry him in our hearts.Italiafestival