Appian Way being vandalised by the rich

From the International Herald Tribune

In ancient times the Appian Way, which links Rome to the southern city of Brindisi, was known as the regina viarum, the queen of the roads. But these days its crown appears to be tarnished by chronic traffic congestion, vandalism and, some of its guardians grumble, illegal development.

“Look at this!” bristled Rita Paris, the Italian state archaeological official responsible for the Appian Way, peering through a weathered bamboo screen lining the road while bumpily maneuvering her car through a patch of uneven ancient stones. “You can bet that it was once a canopy that was walled in and transformed into a home.”

A bit farther on she fumed about a plant nursery that had become a restaurant, without planning permission, a cistern that had morphed into a swimming pool, and the new villas tacked on to ancient monuments. Several are rented out for wedding receptions or society balls, which makes for a steady stream of traffic – and occasionally, “fireworks,” Paris said with a shudder.

Read the rest, with picture

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