Plans to build an emergency rubbish dump near Hadrian’s Villa, the famous emperor’s summer residence near Rome, has sparked outrage in Italy, with top culture ministry officials threatening to resign.
Rome’s main dump at Malagrotta was filled to capacity years ago, but the recent move for a new one tip near the villa, which was classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1999, has infuriated Italians.
“Hadrian’s Villa and its surroundings must not be disfigured. We cannot allow an international wave of protests,” Italy’s Culture Minister Lorenzo Ornaghi told La Repubblica newspaper, after visiting the site on Thursday.
Environmentalists have launched a protest and a “Save Hadrian’s Villa” petition has gathered over 6,000 signatures from historians and archeologists.
Ornaghi has threatened to resign while the popular and well-respected head of Italy’s High Council for Cultural Heritage, Andrea Carandini, has vocally slammed the scheme and also threatened to quit over it.
Should the new rubbish dump go ahead, it may be the fatal blow for the villa, which has already had to close several areas to the public because a lack of funds made it impossible to keep the whole site in good repair.
The historic site at Tivoli, 24 kilometres (15 miles) from Rome spreads over 80 hectares (200 acres) was built between 117 and 138 AD on the orders of the then emperor, Hadrian.
UNESCO calls it “a masterpiece that uniquely brings together the highest expressions of the material cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world.”