It was grey, overcast and chilly, but it didn't stop me from spending the entire day outside exploring the fascinating — and somewhat disturbing — remains of the famous Italian city at the base of a now dormant volcano... Pompeii.
This incredible city, active archeological site and invaluable piece of history always seems to be under constant threat. Looting tourists, the elements, the Italian mafia (archeologists working at the site often receive death threats) and lack of funds for restoration.
Italy has the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites of any other country, and therefore has a lot of pressure to spend money on keeping these sites restored and safe for tourists to visit. Pompeii is a massive site that is still being studied and requires constant restoration. Recently, UNESCO surveyed the site and determined that there had been extensive vandalism and structural damage, warning that measures would have to be taken to curb the damage.
Many of the site's relics (mostly frescos that were disintegrating due to exposed walls) have already been moved to museums, but larger buildings, mosaics and columns are still exposed.
Well (thank goodness) help seems to be on the way!
This summer (2014) the Pompeii Sustainable Preservation project (PSP) will begin a 10-year, 10 million Euro plan that will draw on resources of international researchers working in Germany. The Italian government is also doing its part, already implementing a rescue project that is being jointly funded by the European Union.
Both plans will involve widespread restoration, work to develop long-term preventative solutions, will train researchers on new methods and boost the number of visitors from 300,000 to 2.6 million a year by 2017.
What can you do to help?
Visit the site! Your admission fee will help with restoration. When you are visiting, ensure that you do not climb on the ruins (as tempting as it may be), and NEVER take anything home with you.