Ostia Antica gets Pompeii-like 'Grand Project'

CIPE allocates 40 million, university campus part of plan

(ANSA) - Rome, March 1 - A Grand Project will be implemented for the relaunch of Ostia Antica as a tourist site, as was done for Pompeii.
    Some 32 million euros in public funds will be invested, the site will be connected with the Roma Tre University - thanks to an additional investment of 8 million euros, which will make an ad hoc undergraduate course starting in the fall possible - and there will be a campus for students set up by the Lazio regional government in the two buildings of the former Hotel Enalc.
    "For us this means moving to another level. We will start an important restoration campaign, including for mosaics and paintings, and research space," ANSA was told by Ostia Antica archaeological park director Mariarosaria Barbera. There will be a great deal of restoration works, as was the case in recent years for Pompeii, as well as planning, said sources at the culture ministry under Dario Francheschini, "to reconnect the archaeological complex of Portus within a system of a unified visit that highlights the landscape, the historical-artistic value as well as its naturalistic one and the diverse components of its interior, from the gate of Claudius to the ancient ships and the archaeological park at Trajan's port". There is a great deal to be done in the new park, Barbera said, and restoration will be the first priority.
    "Not only of walls," she said. "We have a large number of mosaics and frescoes." In this Ostia is a unicum, the archaeologist said, since -unlike Pompeii, which was buried by the a volcanic eruption in the first century AD - the town near the capital, which was the first highly populated Roman colony with some 50,000 inhabitants in the second century, was "closely linked to Rome but independent. Signs of Roman paintings go from the first imperial age to the fourth century AD". The funds will thus be used to restore and engage in research as well as "fix up the new wing of the museum, which covers 84 hectares of the ancient city, a city that we see as alive like Isola Sacra - which is the large monumental necropolis." And then there is the port where, the director added, "we will manage to open a museum of Fiumicino ships and conduct important restoration work." Ostia, she underscored, "means a river, a sea, trade and the largest port system of antiquity." The first step will be planning and making calls for proposals, "since it is necessary to spend well".
    Timelines will have to be complied with, but Barbera - who previously was the director of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum - is optimistic. "In three years we will begin to see a great deal," she said.
    At the same time, in the two buildings of the former Enalc Hotel, owned by the Lazio regional government, a 50-bed student dorm along with a university center of Ostia, linked to a new undergraduate course from the Roma Tre University in Sea Technology Engineering. It will be the first course of this type in Italy."