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March 19, 2012

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Hadrian’s Villa, Near Tivoli, at Risk

Posted by Bernard Frischer, Professor of Archaeology and Classics, University of Virginia
World Monuments Fund

Hadrian's Villa, the UNESCO World Heritage site near Tivoli, Italy, is at risk. It joins nearby Ponte Lucano—on the 2010 World Monuments Watch—as a site that requires the attention of everyone who cares about preserving the world's cultural heritage.

Here's the background: Rome has long used a garbage dump at a place called Malagrotta. In June 2011, the EU Commission ordered Malagrotta closed because of various violations of EU environmental regulations. Since then the Region of Lazio (the governmental unit in charge of Rome's waste disposal) has been trying to find a new site. In September 2011, just two months before it fell from power, the Berlusconi government appointed Prefect Giuseppe Pecoraro to be Extraordinary Commissioner of Waste Disposal for Lazio with special powers to confront the emergency situation. In October 2011 Pecoraro announced a plan to install a new 400-acre garbage dump at a locality called Corcolle, which is less than one mile from the site of Hadrian's Villa. Needless to say, the prospect of bringing Rome's daily garbage to the very doorstep of a precious World Heritage Site was greeted with alarm and opposition. The Italian Ministry of Culture and the Province of Rome are on record in opposition to the proposal as are various nearby cities (including Tivoli) and citizen groups.

On March 9, 2012, Corrado Clini, the Italian Minister for the Environment, intervened by calling a meeting of Pecoraro and other interested parties. They decided to examine all possible sites for the new dump site before going forward with Corcolle. On March 15, 2012, Lorenzo Ornaghi, the Minister for Culture in the Monti government, spoke out forcefully against the selection of Corcolle. But Rome's Mayor Gianni Alemanno was also quoted in the press the same day saying that the site of Corcolle was still under active consideration. Clini has called a follow-up meeting for March 22, 2012 at which it is expected that the fate of the Corcolle proposal will be decided.

Time is short. You can help by signing an internationally sponsored online petition appealing to Pecoraro and Clini to abandon the ill-conceived plan to put a huge garbage dump so close to Hadrian's Villa. Over 3,200 people from all over the world have already added their names, including such notable figures as Architect Richard Meier; Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, former Director of the British School in Rome and Master of Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge; and Salvatore Settis, former Director of the Getty Research Center and Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.