A three-day TV marathon to help rescue seven threatened cultural treasures across Italy raised half a million euros (US$705,450) within a few hours of starting Friday, the Italian Culture Ministry said.
Through Sunday, state-run TV RAI's three channels will host cultural debates and broadcast short videos of celebrities _ including tenor Andrea
Bocelli, actress Claudia Cardinale and conductor Riccardo Muti _ asking for donations to save works of art and archaeological wonders in need of restoration. No official target has been set.
The threatened treasures include Emperor Augustus' house on Rome's Palatine Hill, an ancient necropolis in Sardinia and a summer residence near Cuneo, northern Italy, that belonged to Italy's Savoy royal family.
By midday Friday the «Maratonarte» had reached the half a million euros mark, the Culture Ministry said in a statement.
Italy usually budgets relatively little money to safeguard its vast cultural wealth of churches, museums and monuments. Pollution, negligence and vandalism add to the problem, and officials hope the TV marathon will help increase private initiatives to preserve the country's culture.