Friends, Romans, countrymen! Oh yes, and countrywomen. And people in far-flung nations. Everyone, basically. Rome is seeking all the sponsors it can find to fund the monumental job of restoring and maintaining its hundreds of fountains, statues, archaeological sites and historic palazzos.
Perennially short of funds to properly care for the sprawling, two-millennia legacy of art and history, city officials on Tuesday offered their thanks to corporate sponsors of ambitious restoration projects.
Among them are luxury goods companies Fendi, which has been sponsoring work to restore splendor to several famed fountains, including a tourist favorite, Trevi, from the ravages of pollution and pigeons; and Bulgari, which is sponsoring restoration of the Spanish Steps in the heart of Rome’s most chic shopping district.
Officials said the nation of Azerbaijan has helped to restore a room of the Capitoline Museums, while lighting that has made the boulevard flanking the Imperial Forums a popular romantic evening stroll was paid for by Unilever and Acea, a local utility company.
But Rome is hungry for more such generosity, corporate and otherwise. On Tuesday, officials launched a campaign called “100 proposals for patrons,” listing projects they hope sponsors — including rank-and-file citizens — will step forward to “adopt.” They include fountains near the Pantheon, in Piazza Navona and in Villa Borghese park; Trajan’s Bath, Trajan’s Forum and archaeological study of an area near Caesar’s Forum. One proposed “adoption” is at City Hall’s front steps: the piazza atop a stepped ramp designed by Michelangelo.
Modern-day versions of Renaissance merchant princes like the Medici could also mean long-closed monuments, like the Mausoleum of Augustus, might open to tourists.
For proud Romans, such closures are “like having a room closed in our house,” said Claudio Parisi Presicce, the city superintendent of artistic and archaeological heritage.
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