The fresco is located in the city's San Gennaro catacombs, a huge network of underground tombs dating back to the second century BC and containing the tomb of San Gennaro, one of Naples's patron saints. The complex is one of the southern city's most popular attractions, ranked sixth in all of Italy on travel review site TripAdvisor.
Italy’s biggest prosciutto producer, Parmacotto, has provided €30,000 for the project, which will begin in January and is expected to take two years.
That money will go towards the preservation of the centuries-old fresco, which has been damaged by the damp climate of the catacombs over the years.
Speaking at the project's announcement on Wednesday, Parmacotto CEO Andrea Schivazappa said: “We chose [to support] the catacombs for the cultural value, but also for the powerful social significance, because it shows how a group of young people from a tough neighborhood can better express their potential if given the opportunity.”
The catacombs are managed by Paranza, a cooperative made up of young people in the Sanità neighbourhood, an area which has become known for high levels of poverty and unemployment.
Schivazappa likened the huge increase in visitors to the catacombs over recent years, under Paranza's management, to the history of his own company, which has relaunched in the last three years.
And there's another link between the catacombs and prosciutto. The history of Italian cured ham dates back to pre-Roman times, when Roman soldiers began to preserve meat in order to take with them on their journeys across the empire.
According to Italian food company Barilla, Roman writer Cato penned a technical explanation for making prosciutto in the second century, and producers today follow more or less the same process.