More Collapsing Structures in Pompeii

Sylvia Poggioli/NPR

The Berlusconi government is coming under fire for failing to protect buildings at Pompeii and elsewhere from the elements. A piece of Rome’s colosseum fell, part of the home of Emperor Nero crumbled, and now buildings at Pompeii are being damaged by the elements.

All this while Economics Minister Giulio Tremonti said “you can’t eat culture” as he cut funds for the culture ministry. I think anyone who has experienced the delights of Porchetta might seriously disagree with that assertion. That dish was mentioned by Roman writers as early as 400 BCE.

Sylvia Poggioli reports that:

Budget cuts led to a drastic drop in the number of guards, so it’s easy to sneak into the houses and get a glimpse of ancient frescoed walls that are exposed to the elements. Made with humble local stone, these homes were not built to last 2,000 years — all the more need for routine maintenance.

These objects are part of Italy’s cultural heritage, but they are part of our heritage as well. I’m frustrated that the best the Berlusconi government seems able to do is to use Disney as a model for the care and protections of these sites, as Luigi Necco puts it “Why this Disneyland here in the center of Pompeii . . . the center of a human tragedy of 2,000 years ago?”
  1. Sylvia Poggioli, A Collapse In Pompeii Highlights Neglect In Italy NPR, (last visited Dec 2, 2010).
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One thought on “More Collapsing Structures in Pompeii”

  1. Berlusconi is even less popular with the academic-archaeological class than President Bush was here. Berlusconi is being blamed for the lack of maintenance, but the sad fact is that Italy’s cultural establishment has been grossly underfunded for years and many of the same cultural bureaucrats that are attacking the Government have been responsible for gross mismanagement of the sector. This group needs to focus its efforts on cultural treasures like Pompeii and forget about trying to “protect” through government control every last ancient coin and minor antiquity. It serves no purpose but to divert resources from real cultural treasures.

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