News / Europe

Experts: Deficit Threatens Ancient Italian Treasures

Henry Ridgwell

Each year roughly 2.5 million tourists visit Pompeii. Described by archaeologists as the world’s most important window on the ancient world, the bustling Roman Empire town was buried under metres of ash when the nearby volcano, Mount Vesuvius, erupted in AD 79.

The buried ruins were discovered by accident 17 centuries later, with many villas, workshops and bathhouses found largely intact.

But following the October 2011 collapse of a wall in the preserved town - an eight-square-meter section crumbled after heavy rain - archaeologists warn that Italy's countless ancient monuments are at risk because of government budget cuts.

Tsao Cervoli, President of Italy National Association of Archaeologists, has worked extensively at Pompeii.

"We have received in the past few days and weeks new reports of antique structures collapsing in Pompeii," he says. "It happens every time funds become scarce."

A year earlier the famous House of the Gladiators collapsed, and Italy’s president has since called the recurring damage "a national disgrace."

Opposition politicians blame the former government of Silvio Berlusconi for cutting heritage maintenance grants from $40 million to $25 million (30 million euros to 19 million euros).

The European Union is offering to step in, and European Commission member Johannes Hahn visited Pompeii shortly after the wall collapse.

"We have an operational program for Italy named 'Cultural Heritage,' and a certain significant part of this budget will now be used, 105 million euros, to start work here in Pompeii," says Hahn.

But Cervoli, who criticizes Pompeii authorities for spending grants on marketing instead of maintenance, calls intermittent funding the wrong approach.

"What is needed is the same as for any owner of a house: regular maintenance to keep the house in good condition, not merely remembering every 20 or 30 years to intervene," he says.

In turn, authorities blame recent torrential rains for causing the damage. Storms recently damaged other famous monuments, and underground areas of Rome’s Coliseum were flooded, causing some mortar fell from the walls. Parts of the Forum were also underwater, and Cervoli says funding cuts and a lack of maintenance are putting countless sites at risk.

"In the last few years there have been calls for emergency aid for the three most important historical sites in Italy: Pompeii, the Coliseum and the Uffizi in Florence," he says. "Just think, if these three famous sites are in a state of emergency… then what condition would you find all the other architectural and historic sites in Italy?"

With the nation’s economy in crisis, Cervoli fears the answer to that question will be revealed in coming months, with ever more frequent and serious damage to the country’s ancient heritage.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs