Renaissance frescos to get a makeover in Rome

A year-long restoration of the Farnese Gallery at the French embassy in a Renaissance palace in Rome will begin next month, officials said on Wednesday.

Renaissance frescos to get a makeover in Rome
Details of the vault ceiling decorated by Annibale Carracci of the Galleria Farnese in the Farnese Palace in Rome. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

The monumental fresco cycle entitled "The Loves of the Gods" was painted at the end of the 16th century by the artist Annibale Carracci in the Palazzo Farnese.

"For art historians, this is still one of the most perfect examples of Renaissance painting and sculpture," Erkki Maillard, the embassy's second-in-command, told AFP.

"This is kind of our Sistine Chapel!" he said.  

The work is being financed by the World Monuments Fund for Europe, a private non-profit organisation.

The fund's president, Bertrand du Vignaud, said there were "a huge number of cracks" in the frescos and the cycle needed to be cleaned up and strengthened.

The gallery has been restored several times but this is the first time that the side walls — not just the vaulted ceiling — will be restored.

The project was first launched four years ago, with experts debating how the work should be carried out.

It will cost €1.0 million ($1.4 million), with €800,000 coming from WMF through private donors and €200,000 from the Italian government.

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Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.