First bridges, then churches: is italy falling apart??

Actually, a romantic wedding was supposed to take place again this weekend in the small church in the middle of the forum romanum. Then, in the heart of rome, the roof of the church of san giuseppe dei falegnami suddenly collapsed – and italy’s self-confidence took another knock.

Where thousands of tourists walk day after day, not far from the capitol and the colosseum: how can something collapse out of the blue in the center of one of the most important archaeological sites in the world??

Immediately, criticism was voiced about the lack of protection of the cultural monuments of the country. The case in rome is "unfortunately" comparable to the collapse of the bridge in genoa, said the archaeologist adriano la regina, who worked for decades at the heritage agency of rome, the newspaper "la repubblica" (friday). "The italians have already become accustomed to watching how their historical and artistic heritage is treated. The same applies to infrastructure. There is no more investment in preservation."

Unlike the bridge collapse in genoa, which killed 43 people, the consequences in rome were minor, no one was injured. But at the heart of the matter is the question of the security of italian citizens.

"Thank god there were no victims, but today i am naturally not in a good mood. What happened must never happen again," says culture minister alberto bonisoli. But how it intends to prevent similar events is unclear.

"The church itself is not one of the most important in rome. But for a church to collapse in the middle of the forum is very bad," says a city guide touring the forum and nearby coliseum. At least, contrary to initial reports, the mamertine dungeon under the church, where legend has it that the apostles peter and paul were once imprisoned, was not damaged.

Italy benefits from its cultural heritage. The country has the most unesco world heritage sites in the world, attracting millions of tourists all year round. But how to maintain the countless churches, city centers, excavation sites and museums is always a topic of discussion. In rome alone – the center of the catholic church – there are about 1000 churches.

Top sights like the colosseum, the spanish steps and the trevi fountain in rome have been restored with money from companies like tod’s or fendi. Critics say the state is slowly withdrawing from its responsibility for the cultural heritage.

Anyone walking past the colosseum wonders why the city doesn’t protect its cultural treasures more effectively. For example, heavy tourist buses rumble by, polluting the air and shaking the streets. The question also arose as to whether the subway construction between the colosseum and piazza venezia – where the church stands – was responsible for the collapse.

Rome’s ex-burgermeister ignazio marino wanted to close the forum completely to traffic, but before he could do it, he was forced out of city hall. Now buses and cabs still roar along there. Marino’s successor virginia raggi – who was able to watch the roof collapse from her window in the city hall on the capitol – has so far not come up with any rough visions for saving the city from apparent decay.

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