Art And Culture

Italy’s $1b Handout for Pompeii, Bourbon Jail

Italy’s $1b Handout for Pompeii, Bourbon Jail Italy’s $1b Handout for Pompeii, Bourbon Jail

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii, an island jail built by the Bourbons and the home of Botticelli’s Venus are among dozens of cultural sites due to share in a 1 billion euro ($1.15 billion) cash injection, Italy’s Culture Ministry said.

Caring for centuries worth of art and architecture has caused headaches for successive Italian governments as economic stagnation squeezed funding for the arts and restoration projects were dogged by bureaucracy and bad management, Reuters reported.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the 33 projects constituted “the biggest operation on our cultural heritage in the history of the republic”, referring to the period since a 1946 referendum sent Italy’s royal family into exile.

One of the biggest windfalls is due to go to an 18th century prison on the tiny Tyrrhenian Sea island of Santo Stefano, which was closed in the 1960s and has been slowly decaying ever since.

The ministry said in a statement the prison, whose cells were built in a horseshoe shape around a watchtower to make prisoners feel they were always being watched, would receive $80 million for restoration and development.

Pompeii, where work to secure a city preserved under volcanic ash for more than 1,600 years was long delayed by corruption and mismanagement, will get $45 million.

A further $45 million will go to works on the Uffizi museums in Florence, home to masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli and Caravaggio. The historic center of L’Aquila, destroyed by an earthquake in 2009, will get $35 million.

The 29 other projects include extending the Pinacoteca di Brera gallery in Milan, completing restoration at the Palace of Caserta, near Naples, and finishing an auditorium in Florence.