Most of Italy’s major cultural attractions are closed because of a strike over government plans to cut their funding.
Hundreds of museums, art galleries and heritage sites are affected. The Italian government wants to cut 280 million euros (£237m, $380m) from the culture budget over the next three years as part of an austerity drive. Italy has more World Heritage Sites than any other country, a fact that has put even greater strain on funding. The collapse of a house at Pompeii last weekend raised new questions over the country’s ability to maintain its heritage. Culture Minister Sandro Bondi came under pressure to resign after the “House of the Gladiators” fell down at the 2,000-year-old site. Critics blamed a lack of money for maintenance and say it is an example of why Italy’s culture investment should rise, not fall, the BBC’s Duncan Kennedy reports. The government says it is trying to attract private investment to safeguard the country’s rich cultural portfolio and help ease the strain on the over-extended public purse. But it argues that it cannot avoid making painful economies. Italian heritage experts warn that many other monuments, including Bologna’s twin towers, Florence’s Cathedral and Nero’s Golden House in Rome, are vulnerable to collapse. “With no maintenance and non-existent funds, the whole of Italy is at risk of collapsing,” Alessandra Mottola Molfino, head of the heritage charity Our Italy, told the AFP news agency earlier this week.