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The Great Pompeii Project nears the finish line: 30 domuses reopened, new lights to illuminate the ruins

by Vera Viola

The Great Pompeii Project, which began in 2012, is nearing its conclusion. “€65.4 million has been spent,” stated General Manager Luigi Curatoli, “and nine restoration sites have been opened, three more have yet to begin. By 2018, the entire €105 million plan allocated by the European Union will be completed. The new plan, with work lasting two and a half years, is definite,” Curatoli added, “the management committee will approve it in July.”

In the auditorium of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, in the presence of (among others) Minister of Cultural Heritage Dario Franceschini, Minister of the South Claudio De Vincenti, and European Commission Representative Rudolf Niessler, the point was made.

“All of the 2007-2013 plan’s resources have been used,” assured Niessler. The plan’s strategic focus is dedicated to Pompeii. “Currently, Pompeii is secured,” states Superintendent Massimo Osanna, “at least in all of the restored domuses.”

Even more has been done: 30 domuses have been restored to the public; floors, walls, and decorations have been restored to their former splendor. The entire area features Wi-Fi coverage and a three-kilometer-long path that ensures full access for persons with disabilities. “Pompeii is a symbol of our national identity,” said Minister De Vincenti, “its great heritage must be used as a tool for economic and social development for the South and for Italy.” “Nowadays, Pompeii is a benchmark for how to spend and manage public resources,” claims Minister Franceschini, “our country was at the center of a negative story, and it’s become a model for how to correctly use the EU funds. This is our redemption.”

Thus begins a new chapter. The strategic plan for the buffer zone proposes to launch positive economic results for the area that’s developing around the Archaeological Park, which includes Herculaneum, Stabiae, and Oplontis. Pompeii alone received 3.3 million visitors in 2016, but many of them didn’t even stay for a full day.

The plan calls for four kinds of interventions: improving access, redeveloping neglected urban areas, environmental recovery, and promoting tourism. It also calls for a strong public/private partnership and streamlining the procedures overall. “I hope that, in order to build the hotels and structures,” Franceschini concludes, “the local authorities will do their part, but also that the private entities will take an active part.”

The operation to light the archaeological site (which is being handled by ENEL) was also presented. It’s a modern, integrated, visual and auditory path: with LED lights that enhance the ruins and sounds that repeat and reproduce the voices of everyday people during the ancient Roman era. Nighttime visits will be allowed beginning on July 8th, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.