Uffizi Gallery s ceiling collapses
Uffizi Gallery's ceiling collapses

A section of frescoed ceiling has collapsed at Florence's Uffizi Gallery, adding to a litany of stories of Italy's cultural heritage falling apart because of bad maintenance.

Restoration work officially started on the same day on another tourist attraction: the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii, where heavy rains triggered the collapse of the Gladiators' House in 2010.

The 16th-century frescoes at the Uffizi were damaged on Wednesday by a workman doing routine maintenance work on the floor above, Florentine museum authorities told La Repubblica newspaper.

No one was injured.

"The (fallen) pieces of plaster have been collected by a restorer and will be put back together. Restoration work started in the morning and is expected to be completed quickly," officials said.

Meanwhile, EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn visited Pompeii to announce the start of restoration at the 2000-year-old site, thanks to a 105 million euro ($138 million) contribution from the European Union.

Since 2010, about 10 more Pompeii monuments have crumbled because of neglect and poor maintenance.

On the eve of Hahn's visit, a government official said that only two out of a planned three EU-funded projects would be launched, because the firm that won one of the restoration tenders was suspected of links to the Camorra, the local variant of the mafia.

Once a prosperous Roman city, Pompeii was destroyed in 79AD by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands of people and buried the city in 6m of volcanic ash.

The West Australian

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