The noble descendant of a 17th century pope is fighting a battle against government plans to dump Rome's garbage at a site near one of the western world's most celebrated archeological sites - Hadrian's Villa.
Prince Urbano Barberini, whose bloodline is traced to some of Italy's most storied nobles families and individuals - including Maffeo Barberini, who became Pope Urban VIII in 1623 - says disposing of the capital's trash in a quarry near Hardian's Villa in Tivola could keep tourists at bay when the wind passes over the tons of garbage in the direction of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Barberini has joined forces with Italian actress Franca Valeri and wants local farmers to join the battle. Valeri on Friday took out a full page add in Italy's biggest daily Corriere della Sera where in an open letter she pleaded for the Rome regional government to scrap its plan for a dump or risking ''damaging a portion of our territory that is full of history, natural beauty and culture.''
Hadrian ruled over the Roman Empire from 117 to 138 AD. to escape the sweltering summer he constructed a sprawling 250-acre complex consisting of at least 30 buildings, a Greek-style garden and a pond.
Most of the site's marble and statues were plundered largely to construct the 16th century Villa d'Este in Tivoli - also a UNESCO Heritage Site - but what remains is more than enough to give testimony to Hadrian's palatial tastes.
Barberini, whose title is Prince Urbano Riario Sforza Barberini Colonna di Sciarra and has made a career out of acting, says an ancient aqueduct dating from Roman times that still carries water to Rome runs under the proposed site and risks contamination should the dump open.
"It's like building a dump next to Egypt's pyramids," Barberini told Corriere della Sera.Yup. I'm surprised they would try this. My trip to Rome produced a revelation for me: Hadrian and his father Trajan are very popular. Perhaps the most popular emperors in Rome today -- that's right, they might surpass even Caesar Augustus (remember that Julius Caesar was not an emperor).
But, as RogueClassicist says:
… sometimes I seriously wonder what goes through the heads of some of these political types in regards to things like ‘heritage’ and ‘patrimony’ … or even just ‘tourist dollars’.