The state-controlled group will help train staff and donate its
technology for free for three years in an investment worth up to 2
million euros ($2.75 million), after which the equipment will be
left to the restoration project.
Regular collapses of walls and houses in the treasured Roman town
that was covered by ash in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD have caused
an international outcry and increased pressure for an end to delays
dogging a 105-million-euro restoration project part-funded by the
European Union and launched last year.
Finmeccanica will train staff to use high-tech monitoring tools that
should flag shifts in terrain in the 1,500 buildings of Pompeii, so
that archaeologists can quickly intervene to prevent collapses.
Soil movements, a major risk to the ruins especially during bad
weather, will be monitored through high resolution images captured
by the COSMO-SkyMed group of satellites, controlled by the Italian
Space Agency, Finmeccanica said.
Technicians will build up a digital archive of the most important
sites in Pompeii through hyperspectral imaging, which can capture
the composition of different materials by measuring their
Site security will be able to access the information through a
smartphone app, and vandalism or damage to the ruins will set off
The partnership with Finmeccanica is the latest of several examples
in which private companies have stepped in to fund restorations of
Italy's fabled cultural heritage to make up for a dearth of public
Luxury shoemaker Tod's is helping to restore the Colosseum, jeweller
Bulgari the Spanish Steps, and fashion house Fendi the Trevi
Fountain — all in Rome.
"I invite other private groups to come forward and not use the
excuse that there are too many bureaucratic hurdles," Culture
Minister Dario Franceschini said on Thursday. "We are here, there
are no more alibis."
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Italy's most popular tourist attraction after the Colosseum and
Palatine Hill, which attracted 2.5 million visitors in 2013, Pompeii
was preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago and
was rediscovered in the 18th century, but has become a symbol of
decades of mismanagement of Italy's heritage.
Three walls and an arch supporting a temple crumbled last month.
Faulty restoration work, especially following the Second World War,
combined with weather, pollution, weed growth and visiting crowds,
caused the city to decay, Finmeccanica said.
So far, 40 million euros of the 105 million euros available for the
Great Pompeii Project have been allocated.
The restoration hit delays amid disagreement over who should be
named to lead the works, and on Thursday Franceschini said that the
project's deputy director, Fabrizio Magani, would be replaced. He
had been named to the post in December.
($1 = 0.7263 euros)
(Writing by Naomi O'Leary; editing by Mark Heinrich)
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