Visitors at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (photo by Birte Fritsch/Flickr)

Visitors at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (photo by Birte Fritsch/Flickr)

On Tuesday Dario Franceschini, Italy’s Minister of Heritage, Culture, and Tourism,  announced that the superior council for cultural assets and landscape has committed €80 million (~$87 million) to 12 major cultural projects. “Investments in cultural assets are finally back,” Franceschini said on Twitter.

Foremost among the projects are an €18.5-million (~$20.1 million) plan to rebuild the floor of Rome’s Colosseum — which was removed during excavations toward the end of the 19th century — so that the ancient amphitheater might be used for reenactments of Roman spectacles and other events, and €18 million (~$19.6 million) for the so-called “Great Uffizi” project to renovate and expand the most-visited art museum in Italy. In 2013, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery had 1.87 million visitors, while the Colosseum receives some 6 million visitors annually.

The Colosseum in Rome undergoing  renovations (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

The Colosseum in Rome undergoing renovations (photo by the author for Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Italy’s cultural and archaeological sectors have long suffered from chronic underfunding, as illustrated most poignantly by the deterioration of the ancient site of Pompeii. Recently the country has turned to private and corporate funding for major restoration projects, from Fendi bankrolling the $4-million cleaning of Rome’s Trevi Fountain to Bulgari putting $2 million toward tidying up the Spanish Steps. The Colosseum is already in the midst of a €25-million renovation funded by leather goods billionaire Diego Della Valle and due to be complete next year.

The latest allocation is intended to mark a shift to more state investment in cultural and historical sites. The ministry had previously announced an enormous €490 million (~$434 million) in funding for sites in Italy’s five southernmost regions. In addition to the Colosseum and Uffizi projects, Italy’s €80 million in cultural and archaeological funding will go toward the following endeavors:

  • €7 million for improvements to the Polo Reale in Turin.
  • €7 million to speed up the completion of the National Museum of Judaism and the Holocaust, currently under construction in Ferrara.
  • €7 million for the restoration of the Certosa di Pavia monastery.
  • €7 million to create artists’ housing and a contemporary art and performance space in Rome’s Papal Arsenal.
  • €5 million toward the completion of the Museum of Roman Ships in Pisa, which will house nine ancient Roman cargo ships discovered in 1998.
  • €3 million to restore the historic Ponte Vecchio in Bassano del Grappa.
  • €3 million to create an archaeological museum around the Giants of Mont’e Prama in Cabras, Sardinia.
  • €2 million to help build the Museum of Contemporary Art in L’Aquila.
  • €1.5 million to renovate the National Archaeological Museum of Aquileia.
  • €1 million for the excavation and restoration of the ancient Roman villa in Spello.
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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...