Pompeii is entering the second phase of a major rescue plan, which will triple the number of areas open to the public, the archaeological site's emergency commissioner Renato Profili has announced. Profili, who was appointed during the first stage of the plan, said a sweeping restoration drive would get under way in the next few weeks, focusing on houses, walls and public buildings throughout the ancient city. Over the next two years, it will be turned into a ''building site'', said Profili, but the end result will be worth it. The majority of Pompeii's buildings are currently closed to the public but the restoration will triple the number of structures open to visitors.
In addition, a new museum will be created to house the 12,000 precious mosaics, plates, urns, frescoes, bronze items and marble statues that are currently locked up in safes.
The government declared a year-long official state of emergency for Pompeii in July, after a string of press reports highlighted the poor condition of the site.
These pointed to crumbling frescoes and walls, poor signposting, inadequate facilities and the fact so many buildings were closed.
Unveiling the three-phase emergency plan, Culture Minister Sandro Bondi said it was ''staggering'' that so many of Pompeii's 1,500 houses were not open to visitors and admitted there was a ''continuing state of neglect and degradation'' at the site.
Since then, the ancient site has seen a flurry of activity. Restoration has been completed on 19 villas and 22 ancient fountains. In addition, extra public bathrooms have been installed and CCTV coverage has been extended. By the end of this month, the site's new entrance by Piazza Anfiteatro will be open to the public, reducing queues. Following the two years' restoration, the Pompeii Commission will start work with local authorities to remove hawkers and unauthorized guides, and install a kilometre of street lighting. The third phase will involve a new system of management based on the model of other European archaeological sites, which will include allowing private investment.
Every year over two million people visit Pompeii, which was smothered in lava and ash by the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius.