Josephine McKenna – Rome - The Telegraph - 22 Apr 2012
A 2,000-year old wall surrounding an ancient villa at Pompeii has collapsed – just two weeks after the Italian government launched a 105 million euro project (£86 million) to save the precious archaeological site.
The Special Archaeological Superintendent for Naples and Pompeii confirmed the collapse of the red-frescoed wall next to an unidentified villa in an area already closed to the public.
The collapse of the wall is particularly embarrassing for the government as it follows several other incidents at the world heritage site in the past two years.
There is growing concern Italy's ability to protect it from further degradation and the impact of the local Mafia or Camorra.
Giulia Rodano, cultural affairs spokesman for the centre-left Italy of Values party, said there was a need to restore state funding that had been eroded by government cutbacks.
"How many walls have to fall, how much rain or snow should we expect to see a turnaround in state finance for the protection of cultural assets," Ms Rodano said.
"Without a continuous state programme for the conservation and restoration of our archaeological sites, extraordinary and sporadic intervention with European or private funds risks being ineffective."
The latest initiative launched in early April is funded by Italy and the European Union.
At the launch Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister, said the project was designed to secure the buildings currently at risk in one of the most important cultural site in the world.
"We want to ensure that this is accomplished through honest and capable workers and companies while keeping away the organised crime that is still strong in this area," he added.
Pompeii was destroyed when a volcanic eruption from nearby Mount Vesuvius buried the city in ash in 79AD and it now attracts more than 2.5 million visitors a year. The site has fallen victim to various collapses in the last few years, prompting criticism from both Unesco and the European Union