Antiquities and Archaeology Conservation Italy

Police general to lead Pompeii project

Giovanni Nistri, a general in the carabinieri and the former head of the country’s art theft unit, named in surprise appointment

Giovanni Nistri (right) has taken over the management of Pompeii's €105m plan

Pompeii. The man credited with overseeing the return of the famous Euphronios krater from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to Italy is to head the “Great Pompeii Project”—the €105m campaign to preserve the ancient site. The surprise appointment of Giovanni Nistri, a general in the carabinieri and the former head of the country’s art theft unit, was announced earlier this month by the Italian minister of culture, Massimo Bray.

Bray said that Nistri had “distinguished himself” as the head of the art squad, and applauded his “determination and sensitivity” in combatting the illicit trade of cultural property. The project is being funded by the Italian government and the European Union, the latter contributing 40% of the money.

Intense scrutiny

Fabrizio Magani, who has been appointed as Nistri’s second-in-command, is currently the regional director for cultural heritage in the Abruzzo region. He has overseen the reconstruction of L’Aquila, which was devastated after an earthquake in 2009. Reconstruction efforts in the medieval city have come under fire, with many criticising the slow progress made in rebuilding the historic city centre and controversial construction projects, including a proposed shopping mall and car park under the Piazza del Duomo. As we went to press, it was unclear if Magani would continue to oversee the reconstruction of L’Aquila.

The management of Pompeii has come under intense scrutiny in recent years owing to a spate of collapses at the site, including the House of the Gladiators in 2010 and December’s collapse of a wall after heavy rain. Enquiries into possible corruption related to conservation projects led to the investigation of Luigi D’Amora, the site’s former director of restoration, and the house arrest of Annamaria Caccavo, a former contractor. Marcello Fiori, the special commissioner of Pompeii from 2008 to 2010, is under investigation for alleged abuse of office.

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