What interests me is some radical differences in how the story had been reported. The BBC report is much as you'd expect - statistics about how much is being lost every year through lack of funds. The Guardian has a rather different approach. Hardly a word there about the threat to the archaeology. Instead, the report is all about the poverty of the tourist experience:
The daily Corriere della Sera this week deplored the squalid conditions at Pompeii, where visitors run a gauntlet of hawkers and self-appointed car park wardens to a vast and poorly signposted complex with no restaurants and just three toilet facilities.
For a start, this seems a bit unfair. There aren't many toilets, but it's five, rather than three, and, unless it's closed in the past year, there is a restaurant in the shell of the Forum Baths. There are free maps given out at the entrance, and the official guides published by Electa Napoli in collaboration with the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei are as good as any other Electa publication (i.e. an exemplary model of how to do an archaeological guide).
The real question, though, is which report represents the intent behind the move to appoint a special commissioner. If he is to be led by the need to protect the archaeology above any other considerations, then that's by and large a good thing (though giving his salary directly to the Soprintendenza would be better). But if the initiative is to be tourist-led, then I rather share some of the qualms of Mary Beard (who, of course, blogged this before I got around to it). There are no toilets except by the exits and entrances because there's no running water on the site. Do we really want the roads of Pompeii ripped up to lay water pipes? Or Portaloos outside the amphitheatre? And where would one put further restaurants? In some of the houses? In one of the large gardens at the eastern end of the site?
So what is this all about? Protecting the site, or (as is mentioned in the video accompanying the BBC report) exploiting a cash cow?