Despite the risk of losing most of its funding due to high levels of mismanagement and neglect, Italy proudly revealed its restored crown jewel of the ancient city of Pompeii on Friday March 20th. Culture Minister Dario Franceschini cut the ribbon to open the restored Villa of Mysteries, which displays some of the best-preserved frescoes of the site. Franceschini still claims there are still many problems to resolve at Pompeii, all the while Italy was on schedule to meet a European Union deadline concerning funds for the site’s restoration.
The EU offered to spend 105 million euros ($111 million dollars) to fund the maintenance. In 2010, collapse of the Villa of Gladiators and other collapses in Pompeii due to heavy rains created such international alarm that the EU decided to step in and give immediate funds for restoration projects and an administration that would prohibit mafia infiltration. Since the agreement, there have been many completed restoration projects throughout Pompeii, 65 million euros awarded in contracts, 85 experts have been hired to work on the site and visitor numbers increased by approximately 200,000 more since 2013.
At the same time that the EU has given these funds to Italy and the restoration of Pompeii to use by December 31st of 2014, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has threatened to remove Pompeii from the World Heritage list. Fortunately, the progress made in the restoration projects have proven to provide great evidence of progress, and Pompeii still has its World Heritage List status.
According to Franceschini, Italy was in talks with private firms to fund restorations projects for Pompeii, which proves that private donors are increasingly playing an important role in caring for Italy’s most iconic treasures. This has earned Italy more than 50 UNESCO World Heritage listings—more than any other country in the world.