Lately, Naples has had severe difficulty upholding its benevolent to the arts image what with tens of thousands of tons of trash on curbs for weeks beckoning every hungry rat and disgusting maggot to call the rank streets their best infestation resort, ever. Twice in the last six months, Rome has had to deliver an edict to Naples to clean itself up as local control of dumps between citizens, mobsters and government resulted in the streets being replete with waste. Naples, Campania is/was a place of respite, Neapolitan delights like Pizza and usually calm seaside beauty where artists, archaeologists and anthropologists working on uncovering even more of the commune. After deputizing Italian police officers as garbage collectors, Rome now has has had the humiliation to call upon the art world to restore the ruins, again. And that's without factoring in that Mount Vesuvius retains every bit of its power to erupt in terrible magnificence again with an estimated 3,000,000 people now living up close in the volcano's shadow.
"Every year at least 150 sq m (1,600 sq ft) of fresco and plasterwork are lost for lack of maintenance," Antonio Irlando, a regional councillor responsible for artistic heritage, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Ministers intend to appoint a special commissioner to oversee the site, and have earmarked extra funding for it.
According to analysts, the ruins have suffered from lack of investment, mismanagement, litter and looting.
Pompeii has been hit by a fall in tourism to the Naples area since the onset of the latest refuse emergency. According to official figures, the number of visitors last month was 13% down on a year earlier. The region as a whole lost more than 20% of its tourism.
Extraordinary commissioners are becoming a favourite device of Silvio Berlusconi's fledgling third government, which has already appointed one ad hoc administrator for the Naples refuse crisis and three more for what the Italian media terms "the gypsy emergency". Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, an archaeologist and director of the British School at Rome, said the key to preserving Pompeii would be a "programme of continuous maintenance."
Joanne Berry uses the power of illustrations of paintings and frescoes and the scope of information found in a city left mostly intact after the volcanic eruption in a most wonderful book, The Complete Pompeii.