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Rome mayor secures Saudi art restoration funds

Marino and Prince Sultan in deal to save Rome monuments

31 March, 19:46
Rome mayor secures Saudi art restoration funds (ANSA) - Rome, March 31 - Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino has secured a long-term deal with the Saudi monarchy to fund restoration projects in the cash-strapped Italian capital, the mayor's office said Monday.

Marino traveled to Riyadh at the weekend on the invitation of Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a Saudi prince with a passion for art who reportedly first met the mayor at a Rome exhibition in October.

Rome's mayor reportedly flew to meet Prince Sultan, a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot and astronaut who is the current Saudi tourism minister, with a dossier of nine multi-million-euro restoration projects to choose from. These range from a 1.3-million-euro restoration of the facades of the 19th-century Palazzo delle Esposizioni exhibition centre, to a six-million-euro effort to return the Seven Halls, an ancient Roman cistern that once supplied the Baths of Trajan, to their former glory.

While terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, the Saudi monarchy has reportedly agreed to set up a Rome historical monument restoration fund along with other private donors.

Rome has agreed to loan artwork to Saudi museums in return.

This is not the first time Rome mayors have sought alternative funding to keep the city's landmark monuments on their feet.

Last week, luxury jeweller Bulgari signed a deal to pay for the restoration of Rome's Spanish Steps, while the owner of Italian shoe label Tod's has ploughed millions of euros into the Colosseum. As well, Fendi fashion house has agreed to renovate the Trevi Fountain, while Japanese patron Yuzo Yagi in 2012 paid to restore the Pyramid of Cestius.

In October, the Hall of the Philosophers at Rome's Capitoline Museum reopened after a six-month, 100,000-euro renovation courtesy of the country of Azerbaijan.