Italy's long neglected wonders to get €1 billion boost

AFP - [email protected]
Italy's long neglected wonders to get €1 billion boost
€40 million will go to the ancient city of Pompeii. Photo: Kimberly Ross

Italy said on Monday it was earmarking €1 billion for cultural investments, including restoration works in Pompeii, the Uffizi gallery in Florence and the earthquake-hit city of L'Aquila.


Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said it was the "biggest patrimony intervention in Italy's history", telling a press conference the funds would go to 33 projects in 13 regions of the country: "dreams, kept in drawers, which never had the necessary resources".

Some €40 million ($46 million) will go into the expansion of the Uffizi museum, in particular a plan to open to the public the "secret" Vasari Corridor, which connects the museum to the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, and is currently only open to private tours.

Another €40 million will go to the ancient city of Pompeii, frozen in time after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, which spent much of the last decade in the headlines as Roman-era walls and mosaics crumbled away due to poor maintenance.

Unesco World Heritage Site Herculaneum, a richer Pompeii with 75 percent of its ruins still unexcavated, will get €10 million.

Another €30 million is earmarked for the historic centre of L'Aquila, the medieval town partially destroyed in a 2009 earthquake that killed 309 people, left around 65,000 homeless and toppled priceless churches and monuments.

Meanwhile, €20 million will go to restoring the Paestum Museum in southern Italy on a site which boasts three of the best preserved Greek temples in the world, and €25 million is earmarked for the archaeological park at the Phlegraean Fields, or "burning fields", near Naples.

Franceschini described the "huge leap" in investments as "proof that this government believes in culture driving growth", adding that the cultural ministry had seen its funding increased 27 percent in 2016 from a year earlier.


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