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News - Rome / Ostia: Bertolaso resigns,etc. Update...
Martin G. Conde

Dear Prof. Bakker,

Several weeks ago you posted a e-mail March 19th, 2009, on the Ostia Groups, stating:

"...Is there someone out there who can write a critical analysis of what is
going on here [with the (then) new Bondi, Giro & Bertolaso Extraordinary - Archaeological Commission for Ostia & Rome...]?"

cfr. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Ostia-L/message/927

In the reply by Dott.ssa Marina Milella to your e-mail she briefly high-lighted in detail and openly outlined the main problems & concerns that the archaeological staff from Ostia and Rome had with the appointment of Guido Bertolaso & Mario Resca, etc., relating to Ostia and Rome, as well as the staff members problems and concerns for the Archaeological Area of the Imperial Fora, etc., administered by the City of Rome.

Since the query you posted in late March 2009, I have been attempting find relaible, accurate and crediable information [& review my on collection of research materials] provided by Italian Minstry of Culture, the Regional Goverment of Lazio (Latium), the Municapality City of Rome, in order to answer the questions you and other scholars have relating the future archaeological, urban and commercial enterprise (tourism) planning projects for both Ostia and Rome in General.

But, given the fact of the recent tragic earthquake in the Abruzzo Region of Italy in early April, and now Guido Bertolaso resignation from the Extraordinary-Archaeological Commission for Ostia and Rome, so that he and his staff can focus their full attention to this emergency, its now difficult to say how this new emergency will affect the overall future planning for Ostia & Rome conducted by the multi-governmental agenices of the Italian Ministry's of Culture, Interior, Infrastructure and Tourism, combined with the Municapality of Rome?

As for Ostia, with the exception of the what little information the Italian Goverment has made available annoucing the future projects for the City of Ostia (the waterfront and the Ancient City of Ostia), as well as what has been reported in the Italian News Media & and other additional online resources, unfortunately, like many of past and current major large-scale urban, commercial enterprise (tourism) & archaeological projects (protection, management and enhancement, etc.,) in Ostia & Rome, there is little if any detailed published (in print or online) informational resources made availble by the current Italian Minstry of Culture -Min. Sandro Bondi / Under-Secretary Francesco Giro, et. al., etc.

I am forwarding a copy of the recently published article (April 15th 2009 [CULTURE: Protecting Rome's cultural heritage]) a few day prior to Bertolaso resignation (April 18th 2009) which this article is a summary outline of the [future] planning projects for Ostia & Rome, etc.

In the meantime, I waiting to see if on April 21st, 2009, the Celebration of Rome's Birthday, whether or not, the Ministry of Italian & the Muncipality of Rome, etc., will annouce any new information regarding the [future] planning projects for Ostia & Rome, etc.

Thank you

Martin G. Conde

Washington DC, USA


--- [end of text] ---

Wednesday, April 15th 2009, Sabina Zambon

CULTURE: Protecting Rome's cultural heritage
The government is taking steps to shore up the crumbling ruins in the Eternal City

CULTURE: Protecting Rome's cultural heritageThe world’s fascination for the Colosseum is as eternal as Rome itself, and once again in 2008 it was Italy’s most visited monument: while the ruins of Pompeii and the Uffizi gallery in Florence are seeing their visitor numbers slip, Rome’s everlasting symbol, along with the Palatine hill and the Roman forum, saw 3.4 million visitors pass through its turnstiles in the first eight months of 2008, nine per cent more than in the same period in 2007. According to the ministry of cultural heritage’s statistics office, the Flavian amphitheatre (the Colosseum’s real name) had an income of e22.5 million between January and August last year. And yet, despite being a money-making machine, the monument suffers poor health. There are a number of barriers blocking access points with cables hanging from the arches and piles of rubble scattered around the monument. And the general services to the public are inadequate: the WCs rarely work, the ticket offices don’t hand out maps or information brochures, while the outside of the structure is teeming with illegal hawkers and centurians hustling for trade. In addition, a never-ending flow of traffic just a few metres away is not only bothersome but also detrimental to the ancient monument: along with the metro B line which runs under the monument and the occasional concerts (which the ministry of cultural heritage has vowed to end), it causes constant vibrations which environmental associations complain lead to tiny cracks called “microtraumas” that can cause serious damage over time.

The Palatine hill and the Roman forum are also in a depressing state. Basically, it seems that the jewels in the crown of the Roman empire are facing the same fate as Pompeii. And, as in the case of the city destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 AD, the government has decided to act, appointing a commission with special powers to oversee work on the sites, potentially undermining the Rome Soprintendenza speciale per i beni archeologici which sees to the day-to-day running of the sites.

In early March, during a visit to the Giotto e il Trecento exhibition at the Vittoriano, the president of the republic, Giorgio Napolitano, commented on the state of affairs: “Italy is world-renowned for its extraordinary wealth of historical, cultural and artistic heritage. For us the problem is managing it to the best of our advantage, never forgetting what a major resource it is for the country and how extremely necessary - not to mention profitable - it is to invest in optimising our cultural heritage.”

And so Italy’s civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso, called in on many occasions to sort out Italy’s emergencies, rode into Rome as the government-appointed knight in shining armour for the city’s archaeological sites: nominated on 12 March as extraordinary commissioner for the Rome and Ostia Antica archaeological areas, he has e37 million at his disposal for emergency repairs and restorations. He has been instructed to plan “direct measures for the safety and safeguarding of the archaeological areas,” necessary “to overcome the emergency situation.”

During the press conference on 17 March at the ministry of cultural heritage to introduce the new commissioner, the cultural heritage undersecretary, Francesco Maria Giro, explained his brief: “The operations will initially be concentrated on the Palatine hill, which is literally crumbling to pieces, and on the cloaca maxima (“the greatest sewer”), which during heavy rainfall overflows and floods Via Sacra, the Domus di Lilia and the Domus Aurea, forcing them to be closed for weeks on end. We want to combat the degradation, the instability and the inaccessibility of the sites, some of which have been closed since the 1980s.” At the same press conference, Bertolaso talked to the gathered journalists about his own personal experience of visiting the Palatine hill with his family, where he noticed the inaccessibility for the disabled, the inadequate sanitary conditions and the lack of facilities, complaining that “this is not in step with a city that wishes to be one of the top tourist attractions in the world.” He said that the sign attached by the security staff at the entrance of the Palatine hill was emblematic: “We invite visitors to pay particular attention to the dangers that may be encountered within.” An almost defeatist surrender to the dereliction of the site.

Bertolaso will work hand-in-hand with the current chief of Rome’s Soprintendenza, Angelo Bottini, who will chair a technical committee formed of experts to evaluate exactly what action needs to be taken. But the formation of the new committee hasn’t gone down well with the staff of the Soprintendenza who, on 6 March, went on strike, leaving the gates of the Colosseum, the Palatine hill, the Baths di Caracalla and other key monuments closed. Above all, they fear that bringing Rome under the direct supervision of a committee run by appointees of the ministry of cultural heritage will undermine their professionalism.

The minister of cultural heritage, Sandro Bondi, denied that the decision would lead to conflict over the running of the capital’s archaeological sites: “The decision stems from an emergency situation. This is a major alliance between important institutes, driven by a love for culture, and in no way undermines the work of the Soprintendenza. On the contrary, it will help exploit and better safeguard our cultural heritage.”

So what concrete steps can we expect to be taken under Bertolaso’s guidance? First of all, Bottini hopes that the new appointment will be accompanied by more funding for the Colosseum-Palatine hill-Roman forum area. He also envisages a new ticket office, information point, bookshop and hygiene services for the monument. The two metal detectors at the entrance to the Colosseum, which drastically increase queuing times, may also be removed.

In the meantime, the country is about to celebrate the 11th “Settimana della Cultura” from 18-26 April, which aims to promote knowledge of culture and transmit a love of the arts. This year the accent is on two fundamental concepts which echo Napolitano’s thoughts: the inestimable value of Italy’s cultural heritage and its characteristic as a precious resource both for tourism and knowledge. Over 200 special events including free entry to museums, workshops, concerts and film screenings will make Rome one of the main stages of the national event. Coinciding with culture week will be the 2,762nd anniversary of the foundation of Rome on 21 April, when the Imperial forums will be newly illuminated and therefore visible from the road even by night. This is just a taster of one of the plans to open them for nocturnal visits by 2011.

For a complete list of state-run events in Rome, go to www.060608.it and type “Settimana Cultura” in the search field. Then click on the first option that appears (labled “XI Settimana della Cultura”) to read the programme.

Who is Guido Bertolaso?

The fate of Rome’s monuments moved down Guido Bertolaso’s emergency list as he turned his attention to the earthquake that hit large parts of the mountainous region of Abruzzo in central Italy on 6 April, which killed over 250 people, left thousands homeless and caused serious damage to the historic city of L’Aquila and the surrounding area. As head of Italy’s civil protection agency his first priority is now organising the earthquake clear up and relief for the homeless.

Bertolaso is already an expert in earthquake management; he was head of the civil protection agency in September 1997 when an earthquake in Umbria devastated Assisi and the surrounding area, killing 13 people and causing severe damage to its historic monuments. Much of the success of the rescue work and the management of that natural calamity can be attributed to him.

Bertolaso was also brought in to solve the garbage emergency that hit the Campania region in 2008, which was finally concluded in March with the opening of the new incinerator at Acerra.

Bertolaso has also made the headlines as the man in charge of strategic planning for the G-8 summit of world leaders to be held on the archipelago of La Maddalena, off the northeast coast of Sardinia, from 8-10 July this year where security is the top priority.

Fonti / source:


Giudo Bertolaso, Italy's Director of Civil Protection Resigns as Extraordinary - Archaeological Commissioner of Rome & Ostia.

Rome (April 18) - Guido Bertolaso, announced that he would resign as the Extraordinary - Archaeological Commissioner for Rome & Ostia, a position he was appointed too roughly a month ago, on March 17, 2009, by Sandro Bondi, Italy's Minstry of Culture.

Note: The initial annoucement by Min. Bondi in early Feb. 2009, appointing Guido Bertolaso as Extraordinary - Commissioner for the archaeological areas of Rome and Ostia, had aroused a great deal of controverey, and anger among the Italian Archaeologists responsible for the Archaeological Area of Rome and Ostia, as well as the archaeological staff of these area's closing the archaeological sites & museums in protest, including an international online petitions signed with several thousand signatures from Italian & Interternational scholars, students and other persons opposing Min. Bondi's decision.

ROMA - Bertolaso ha deciso: si dimetterà da commissario ai Fori
Beni archeologici «Non smentisco la notizia» Il sottosegretario Giro: ci ripensi

Fori, il Commissario. Bertolaso ha deciso: dimissioni. Si dimette da commissario all’area archeologica dei Fori? «Non smentisco la notizia». Guido Bertolaso è in Abruzzo, travolto dall’emergenza del terremoto. E risponde così alla domanda che gli viene rivolta.
Le indiscrezioni raccontano che durante la visita del ministro dei Beni culturali Sandro Bondi in Abruzzo, il sottosegretario alla Protezione civile si sia confidato con il suo capo di Gabinetto Salvo Nastasi: due emergenze, quella del terremoto e quella dei Fori, sarebbero in pratica troppo faticose da sostenere anche per spalle ampie come le sue. E così «non smentiamo la notizia », dell’ipotesi di dimissioni da commissario dell’area archeologica dei Fori e di Ostia Antica da parte di Guido Bertolaso.

«Il problema c’è - ammette, interpellato, il sottosegretario ai Beni Culturali Francesco Giro - l’evento sismico che ha investito l’Abruzzo ha duramente impegnato il capo della Protezione civile. Tuttavia - aggiunge Francesco Giro - ritengo che Guido Bertolaso possa continuare il suo lavoro e non debba lasciare l’incarico di Commissario dell’area archeologica di Roma, anche per l’ottima collaborazione che si è sviluppata tra la Protezione civile e la sovrintendenza archeologica diretta da Angelo Bottini. Ha già permesso di tirare a lucido la basilica Emilia, ha permesso di costruire un percorso attrezzato e protetto per i disabili, che potranno visitare perfino la Curia del Senato, di riparare un condotto fognario in 24 ore con l’Acea». E il sottosegretario ai Beni culturali ritiene che ci possa essere anche una soluzione di aiuto: «Potremmo - dice Francesco Giro - per sostenere il suo impegno nominare in tempi rapidi un vice-commissario fra i dirigenti stessi della Protezione civile che sono assolutamente preparati, come dimostra il lavoro di Marcello Fiori a Pompei. Sono ottimista - conclude ho fiducia che Guido Bertolaso resterà ».

La nomina di un Commissario per l’area archeologica dei Fori e di Ostia Antica aveva suscitato non poche polemiche e la rivolta di ottanta funzionari della sovrintendenza con lettere, appelli e proteste di ogni tipo. Ma proprio ieri il sovrintendente archeologico di Roma, Angelo Bottini ha difeso la scelta: ha portato a interventi più facili, più veloci e alla semplificazione amministrativa. «Se qualcuno si aspettava che l’intervento della protezione civile provocasse un sommovimento epocale della soprintendenza, è stato smentito - ha detto ieri sera Bottini - È una gestione che interviene operativamente, senza rivoluzioni». Che è destinata a gestire un’emergenza (l’incarico per Bertolaso è fino al 31 dicembre 2009 salvo proroghe). Tra le novità un radar messo a punto dalla Università di Firenze che sarà collocato ai Fori e che monitorerà i sommovimenti millimetrici del Palatino e delle domus romane. «Un progetto che affianca e arricchisce quello nostro», conclude Bottini.



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