Italy seeks balance for Pompeii site

Nov. 8, 2010 at 7:25 PM
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ROME, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- A bestselling author on Pompeii, Italy, says the collapse of a ruin illustrates the need for balance between preservation and allowing visitors at such sites.

Robert Harris, author of the 2003 bestseller, "Pompeii," said he was not surprised at Saturday's collapse of the 2,000-year-old gladiator school, in light of the number of people visiting the UNESCO world Heritage site and the lack of funding provided to preserve it, ANSA reported Monday.

"We are faced with a paradox: the more people visit Pompeii, the more Pompeii is destroyed," Harris said.

The archaeological superintendent of Pompeii said the collapse occurred around dawn Saturday when the site was closed to the public so no one was injured.

Pompeii was preserved in volcanic ash in A.D. 79 and is a major tourist attraction as well as an important historic treasure. The gladiator center, known as Schola Armaturarum Juventus Pompeiani, covered 430 square feet and was visible to tourists along one of Pompeii's main streets.

Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi said he will report to parliament Wednesday to "explain what happened in Pompeii and what is necessary to do in the future."

Bondi claims a 1950 restoration of the school "wrongly" installed reinforced concrete on the roof making for an untenable weight which apparently was dealt a final blow from recent heavy rains, ANSA said.

Conservation groups allege the cash taken in from visitors is being misused and some members of the opposition suggest maintenance of the site should be removed from the government's hands and entrusted to international bodies.

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