Aim of this article is to analyse virtuous relationships between cultural activity and economic growth, particularly at urban level. Recognising that by too much time concepts of culture and economics have belonged to far worlds of meanings, we estimate worthwhile to recall several reasons to look today at cultural policies among the most important strategies for local development in the global economy. Using up-to-date statistical data on cultural economics, the article shows relevance of culture activities and employment in the modern economies. The operational concept of cultural district has recovered from industrial economics, but it’s used in new meanings and institutional perspectives to design a wide integrated strategy of local development. After a review of economic literature considering cultural districts as important concept to understand economic change and growth, this article analysed various experience of cultural strategies at urban level in United States, Europe and Italy. Final remarks underline bearing of cultural strategies in the evolution of Italian economy, not just to shift from manufacture toward tourism-cultural specializations, but also to feed local industrial innovation processes with creative resources.