(ANSA) - Rome, May 20 - The superintendent of the archaeological site of Pompeii said Tuesday that he is "confident" that efforts to preserve the UNESCO World Heritage Site are succeeding.
Massimo Osanna was speaking at the opening of an international conference promoting the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean being held in the ancient site that has been under enormous stress despite international efforts to preserve it.
"I am very confident that we'll make it," said Ossana in a speech to the conference titled Memory of the Future and organized by sponsors including the ANSA news agency. Ossana said that it is important to remember Pompeii is an enormous "city of ruins" that requires great efforts of support, but he said staff are committed to keeping it intact. Over the years, parts of the ancient city have collapsed under adverse weather conditions, including heavy rainfall, and at times suffered serious neglect.
In March, a series of wall collapses followed UNESCO warnings the ancient city could "completely fall apart" and lose its World Heritage status unless urgent action is taken. The European Commission has pledged 105 million euros for repairs and restoration under the ambitious Great Pompeii Project for the world-famous site, created when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, preserving the entire city in ash.
Security has also been sub-standard, critics said after reports of thefts of valuable frescoes and artifacts.
Pompeii has also been plagued for decades by accusations of mismanagement, neglect and even infiltration by the local Camorra mafia.
Still, Pompeii has become such an important symbol of Italy and attracted so much interest from the world that it "can never go back" to a time when decay could be ignored, said Francesca Barracciu, undersecretary for cultural heritage and tourism.
"Pompeii is a site to preserve and bring to life, and it can be the heart of a tourist and cultural revival - not only the Campania region but the entire country," said Barracciu.
"The difficulties we have had up to now are being overcome...I think there is such a level of awareness that you cannot really go back," she said.
The international conference focuses on the value of communication in the cultural dialogue of Mediterranean cities with an emphasis on themes including economics, identity, and the importance of communication in conveying cultural values.
The Mediterranean basin is seen as a place of cultural exchange, particularly through such events as cinema, music and theatre festivals as well as exhibitions.
ANSA's Mediterranean network ANSAmed, founded 10 years ago in Naples, has played a significant role in the exchange of information and cultural communication with countries on the shores of the Mediterranean with the aim of contributing a class of new communicators that have a clear Mediterranean identity. A number of high-profile guests are expected in the digs of Pompeii, one of the most visited archeological sites in the world whose only rival in the Mediterranean basin are the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Media debate will be fuelled by ANSA Editor-in-Chief Luigi Contu, whose ANSAMed desk is covering the two-day event, as well as by Il Mattino Editor Alessandro Barbano and foreign guests including Laure Sleiman Saab, director of Lebanon's news agency NNA; Mohamed Sabreen, editor of Egyptian daily Al-Ahram; and Riyadh El-Hassan, president of the Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies.
Meanwhile Tuesday, plans were unveiled for the rejuvenation of a 2,000-year-old theatre at the archaeological site.
Theatrical productions inside the second-century BC amphitheatre, the Grand Theatre of Pompeii, will commence in July with a performance of the classic tragedy Agamemnon by Greek playwright Aeschylus, said Campania Culture Assessor Caterina Miraglia.
Built according to traditional Greek style, the Grand Theatre of Pompeii had a capacity of about 5,000 spectators, with tiered seating that makes use of a natural slope and an orchestra arranged in the form of a horseshoe.