This week in Rome antitrust investigators put the kibosh on a “donation” made by Tod’s to help fund the restoration of this symbol of Rome (read the article here). This halt to funding could not come at a worse the since this week more cracks and damage have been found on the monument and more fragments have come tumbling down. The reason for the halt, according to Rome’s mayor, is nothing of concern, since many agreements, especially when they involve the country’s heritage, are subject to scrutiny of regulators. Others believe that this will setback plans to restore the monument, further endangering it from pollution, age, and the vibrations from the metro which runs underground nearby.
And should private companies be given “control” the image rights of monuments? Can Italy afford not to strike agreements with private companies to help support the restorations of dozens and dozens of monuments? Or is it simply an easy “out” for Italy, taking money from corporations to fund projects that they should be working to manage and maintain? Can Italy afford these kind of “Faustian” arrangements?
With so much history and culture packed into one place, it is virtually impossible for the government and local authorities to keep up. Not only do they face fiscal pressures, they also face environmental problems, such as pollution, traffic and vandalism. The money and manpower needed to keep these monuments safe and open to all is a daunting and almost impossible task, one that is further complicated by Italy’s economic crisis. The political crisis of Berlusconi’s time in government certainly didn’t help the situation either, and now Italy, faced with one of its worst economic crises since World War II, probably has less money to go around to combat these problems, focusing all its energies on remaining with the EU and lowering its debt costs and burden.
Perhaps these kinds of projects is where the Italian government should be hedging its bets — putting money into lasting projects that will provide jobs, spur the economy while preserving the beauties and splendors of the Eternal City, not just for Italians but for the entire world.