There are fears that many of Italy’s historic treasures could go to rack and ruin because of large scale government cuts.
Some 300 million euros from the country’s cultural budget is in line for the chop as Rome seeks to rein in its deficit.
Earlier, thousands of museums, galleries and other sites were closed as part of a one day strike to protest against the planned measures.
The chairman of Federcultura, Roberto Grossi, said:
‘‘These rules are unacceptable. It cuts the fund for cultural events and exhibitions by 80 per cent. The private sector is also banned from the board of directors of cultural institutions.’‘
Many also argue that the planned austerity drive over the next three years will have a disastrous affect on Italy’s tourist industry.
Rome’s town councillor for Culture, Umberto Croppi, said: ‘‘We are talking about hundreds of millions of euros. For example, without the exhibition of Caravaggio, Rome would lose at least 30 million euros.’‘
The government says it believes private capital will be able to fill the void.
However, the collapse of the ‘House of the Gladiators’ in Pompeii last week has raised questions over whether Italy is already able to safeguard its heritage.