The Italian Almanac


Italian News - May 11

Imagine the Coliseum sporting a McDonald's billboard. Or maybe the Tower of Pisa draped in an ad for dirty denim. Or Michelangelo's David perhaps hawking Calvin Klein underwear.

It's not as far off as it sounds. Rome's Pantheon will get a fix-up thanks to advertising sold on scaffolding and officials throughout the country are grappling with the ethical problem of financing much-needed restorations by using monuments as giant billboards.

Italy is chock-a-block with monuments, UNESCO estimates the Bel Paese holds 60% of the world's art treasures, but unfortunately does not have the budget to maintain them.

Some see saving art through advertising as a question of practicality. "Let's face it, when they started charging tourists entrance fees churches became museums, not places of worship," architect and Florence resident Dario Notari told zoomata. "Now they are splitting hairs. If only every art work could find a sponsor, Italy would be in good shape."