Italian Cultural Property in Real Danger
November 11, 2010 – Now you can read it everywhere: Pompeii perishes a second time. This time Mount Vesuvius is guiltless. The cause is human failure: lack of money, sloppiness and apathy.
On the night of November 6, 2010 the house of the gladiators collapsed. This building is certainly not a special point of interest recorded in every tourist map. It is just another ruin, which has been closed for decades. It is just another reason, why the excavations of Pompeii are a permanent scandal.
Each year two millions of tourists edge themselves through the narrow streets of Pompeii filled with other groups of tourists. Every visitor pays 11 Euro for his sightseeing tour. What does the Sopraintendenza provide in return? Antiquities, gorgeous antiquities, decayed, neglected, fenced off. Of course, the politicians do care for Pompeii. Two years ago, Silvio Berlusconi placed the site under the care of civil defense. Nothing changed. To this day feral dogs roam the excavation, the custodians sit together in order to have a natter and an ancient house breaks down.
We are used to it. It is not the first loss of archaeological substance this year. March 30, 2010 a hallway of the famous Domus Aurea collapsed. This magnificent palace of Nero, which has been discovered in the Renaissance and inspired Renaissance artists like Raffael, has been opened in 1999 and closed in 2005. It was reopened in 2007 to registered groups only. Now it is closed again and we should be grateful that nobody was injured, when this 60 square meters big piece of ceiling fell down.
The pictures of the collapsed Domus Aurea toured the world, while some plaster panels of an entrance arch of the Colosseum, which fell off at the beginning of May, escaped global public’s notice.
We are anxiously waiting, which Italian site will be the next to collapse.