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Pompeii project already funded, culture minister says

Managing director and deputy named to head up project

09 December, 15:00
Pompeii project already funded, culture minister says (ANSA) - Naples, December 9 - The Italian culture minister on Monday said funds were no issue for an ambitious project to restore and redevelop the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii, just south of Naples.

"Pompeii doesn't need money. The project launched has starting funds (already allocated)," Massimo Bray told a Naples conference on southern Italy. "With the plan made by ex-minister (Fabrizio) Barca, the EU already has funds for the protection of the site. Now it is a matter of applying our best efforts to the field to reach the results," Bray said.

Barca was the minister of territorial cohesion under the technical government led by ex-premier Mario Monti which preceded the current elected Italian government, headed by Premier Enrico Letta. Bray envisioned a Pompeii "with welcoming hotels" and an "efficient little train like the one connecting Heathrow with London" that would whisk visitors from Naples to the ancient Roman city that was buried under pumice and ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.

"I would like to arrive in the Naples train station and find an information service that can usher tourists to Pompeii, perhaps also to a museum. This all has to be built, but if we work together, we will succeed," Bray said.

The much-awaited nomination of a managing director and a deputy for the Pompeii project were announced by the Italian cabinet on Monday.

The chief of the redevelopment project is Giovanni Nistri, a general of the paramilitary Carabinieri police, who headed Italy's cultural asset-protection division 2007-2010.

The deputy managing director is Fabrizio Magani, a ministry official who heads cultural and landscape assets for central Italy's Abruzzo region and leads the restoration project for L'Aquila, a medieval city devastated by a 2009 earthquake that killed 297 people, left 65,000 homeless and caused severe structural damage.

The project to restore and redevelop the Pompeii archeological site was included in a decree approved by Italy's cabinet in early August.

"Project Pompeii is a project coordinating initiatives for the archaeological site. It will be overseen by a director-general to ensure compliance with the commitments regarding Pompeii, who will also have special superintendence over Herculaneum and Stabia," the culture minister said when the decree was approved last summer.

The director will be supported by a maximum staff of 20 technicians, as well as five experts in law, economics, architecture, urban planning and infrastructure.