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ITALY

Italian town ‘forgets’ Roman theatre found under ex-factory

An ancient Roman amphitheatre, in the town of Fano, in the Marche region, is slowly rotting away beneath an abandoned factory from the early 1900s.

Italian town 'forgets' Roman theatre found under ex-factory
The theatre was discovered under a derelict building in 2001. Photo: Screengrab/Corriere

“The original builders most probably knew what they were building on, but they were different times,” Fano engineer Salvatore Vittorio Russo told Corriere della Sera.

Today, laws prohibit sites of archaeological interest from being developed, something the building's owners – a consortium of local businessmen – discovered to their chagrin.

Fifteen years ago they gained permission to turn the uncovered 1,830 square-metre ex-factory into 22 apartments.

“Before the project could get underway the council asked to perform a geophysical scan and found the remains of the theatre under the factory floor,” Russo explained.

It was quite a find.

Archaeologists suspect the full structure once stood some 20 metres high, 66 metres wide and could accommodate up to 10,000 people, making it one of the biggest Roman theatres in the region.

But in spite of its majestic scale, nothing more was done to excavate the ruin. Instead, Fano's long-lost amphitheater has lain exposed to the elements for more than a decade.

The theatre remains behind closed doors, in the heart of the abandoned factory, its impressive terraces adorned with dead animals and weeds.

The flimsy plastic sheeting which covers the structure has worn away in parts, exposing its ancient stone to the elements. The problem? A bureaucratic log-jam and the quest for profit.

After the new-found segment of the theatre was excavated, the council removed the building consortium's permit to build on the site, which remained private property.

After a series of lengthy negotiations with the council, the owners were offered the right to develop a much larger, 8144 square-metre site on the edge of the town where they could build 130 homes.

However, the generous offer came at the height of the financial crisis when the prospect of selling so many homes seemed bleak, and so the consortium refused.

Subsequent negotiations with changing local councils have done nothing to unblock the impasse.

“Until we own the site, we can't do anything with it, but it would be perfect for an interactive museum,” regional councillor Caterina Del Bianco told Corriere della Sera.

“We would need to find between €2 million and €3 million in funds to develop the site for which there are many options available between national and European funds,” she added.

For now, any ideas of transforming the derelict site into a tourist attraction which could take centre-stage in Fano must remain waiting in the wings.

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ITALY

Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.


Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?

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