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Italy: Pompeii tops new culture minister's agenda

last update: March 25, 10:54

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Rome, 25 March (AKI) - Italy's new culture minister said reversing the frail state of 2,000-year-old ancient Roman city of Pompeii is a priority in his agenda of giving culture more importance amid criticism of neglect under prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.

In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa published in Friday, Giancarlo Galan said his first task will be to "confront the (culture) crisis starting with Pompeii."

Galan on Wednesday moved to the Culture Ministry from the Agriculture Ministry to take the place of Sandro Bondi, who came under fire following a series of collapses at Pompeii late last year, including part of its frescoed House of the Gladiator.

Critics say Pompeii's state is emblematic of the wider state of Italian culture that they claim has suffered from deep funding cuts.

The day Galan started his new job, his ministry announced 236 million euros in fresh funding for Italy's culture for 2011. Eighty million euros is earmarked for the country's numerous archeological sites. At Pompeii the ministry said it will hire new staff to safeguard the fragile site.

In a separate interview with Naples daily Il Mattino published Friday, Galan said continuous laments about Pompeii is "hypocrisy,"

"During the war it was bombed. Stop complaining about the collapse of the House of the Gladiator. There isn't only Pompeii," he said in the interview.


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