EU moves to save Pompeii, protect it from mafia

ROME Thu Feb 7, 2013 1:23am IST

A restorer works in the ancient Roman city Pompeii, which was buried in AD 79 by an eruption of the Vesuvius volcano, February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

A restorer works in the ancient Roman city Pompeii, which was buried in AD 79 by an eruption of the Vesuvius volcano, February 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ciro De Luca

Related Topics

ROME (Reuters) - The European Union launched a 105 million euro restoration of the Roman city of Pompeii on Wednesday, and said it would seek to protect conservation funds from the mafia.

The project began a day after police arrested a restorer on suspicion of pocketing hugely inflated fees for work at the crumbling world heritage site that was declared to be in a state of emergency in 2008 due to its deterioration.

The money will pay for a new drainage system, the reinforcement of some structures and staff training, and includes "a variety of measures to protect itself from the influence of organised crime - the Camorra - which infects many parts of the region," the European Commission said.

The Camorra is the local mafia which thrives on trafficking, extortion, and government contract frauds in and around Naples, the largest city in southern Italy, 25 km (15 miles) from Pompeii.

Police are investigating former managers at Pompeii whom they suspect of paying inflated prices for restoration work. One contract originally priced at 449,882 euros ended up costing almost 5 million euros, and many works were not essential, prosecutors said.

Italy declared a state of emergency in Pompeii in 2008 after archaeologists complained about poor upkeep, mismanagement and lack of investment.

The town, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD until its rediscovery in 1748, attracts 2.3 million tourists a year, but suffered further serious damage in torrential rainfall in 2011.

The EU's regional fund spent 7.7 million euro on restoration at Pompeii from 2000-2006, but today just five individual sites are open due to damage, compared to 64 in 1956.

EU Regional Affairs Commissioner Johannes Hahn said he had taken an interest in launching the restoration plan since the 2010 collapse of the House of the Gladiators, used by the warriors before fights in the nearby amphitheatre.

Organised crime generates an annual turnover of 140 billion euros in Italy, according to a 2012 study by anti-crime group SOS Impresa, generating profits equivalent to 7 percent of Italy's national output.

The EU did not say how it would prevent mafia involvement in future restoration projects at the site.

Underlining the fragile state of parts of Italy's vast artistic heritage, a piece of a 16th century fresco fell from the ceiling of the Uffizi gallery in Florence on Wednesday during maintenance work in one of the museum corridors.

A museum statement said the restoration operation would take around 10 days.

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Republic Day

Reuters Showcase

Australian Open

Australian Open

Serena avenges French Open loss to reach quarter-finals.  Full Article 

Miss Universe

Miss Universe

Miss Colombia is crowned Miss Universe for 2015.  Full Article 

SAG Awards

SAG Awards

'Birdman' wins top honor from actors in march toward Oscars.  Full Article 

Banking Revolution

Banking Revolution

India turns to corner shops, mobile phones for banking revolution.  Full Article 

Climate Change

Climate Change

U.S.-China climate deal does not put pressure on India, says Modi  Full Article 

Bangladesh Politics

Bangladesh Politics

Bangladesh charges opposition chief with instigating attack on bus  Full Article 

Box Office

Box Office

Eastwood's "American Sniper" continues as U.S. box office juggernaut   Full Article 

Boko Haram Fight

Boko Haram Fight

Nigeria repels suspected Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri city  Full Article 

Akshay Kumar's Latest

Akshay Kumar's Latest

"Baby" is a smartly written, well-acted film  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage