Great ceremony to mark the rehabilitation of the White Pyramid in Rome
The exemplary conservation of the White Pyramid in Rome, winner of an EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2017, was celebrated on 31 October with a varied programme, featuring an award ceremony, a panel discussion and a guided tour of this iconic landmark, the sole remaining example of a monument built in Rome during the first century B.C. in the so-called ‘Egyptian’ fashion. Some 130 people, including several top-level local, national and European representatives, took part in these events. The celebrations continued the next day with free-of-charge guided visits of the White Pyramid.
The festive day started with a special session at the Circolo Degli Esteri in Rome. Among the speakers were David Sassoli, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Vito Borrelli, Deputy Director of the European Commission Representation in Italy, Umberto Vattani, President of the Italy Japan Foundation, and Akihiko Uchikawa, representing the main patron of the rehabilitation of the White Pyramid – Mr. Yuzo Yagi, a Japanese businessman from Osaka. In restoring the Pyramid, Mr. Yagi wished to show his gratitude to Italy for the growth of his business of importing Italian clothes to Japan.
The architect Maria Grazia Filetici and the archaeologist Rita Paris from the Department of Archeological Heritage of Rome outlined this outstanding conservation project, while a video documentary about the various phases of the project, was broadcast.
The 36-metre high pyramid, built as a tomb for the powerful Roman magistrate Caius Cestius, underwent a €2 million restoration between 2013 and 2014. The project, which was initiated and coordinated by the Superintendent for the Colosseum and Archaeological Area of Rome, encompassed the thorough research of the state of the monument and the development of innovative techniques to restore the structure and to discover the effects of anti-pollution barriers on the Carrara marble which coats the Pyramid.
Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, congratulated all persons involved in the restoration, in particular the team led by Mr Sergio Salvati and Mrs Docci of conservators, archaeologists, architects, structuralists and chemists, and gave special thanks to Mr. Yagi for his generosity and foresight.
“The conservation project of the White Pyramid represents the ideal combination of research, restoration and patronage. Thanks to this success formula, this landmark monument can today be fully enjoyed by thousands of people who cross the square around the Porta Ostiense every day to go to work. I hope that this powerful example will be followed not only in Italy but throughout Europe,” stated the Secretary General of Europa Nostra.
Silvia Costa, MEP and former Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education, concluded the session, expressing the wish that the White Pyramid becomes a symbol of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.
In the afternoon, following the unveiling of the the Awards plaque, the participants were then given a guided tour of the masterfully restored White Pyramid. Among the guests were Rossana Bettinelli and Simone Mizzi, Board Members of Europa Nostra, and Paolo Vitti, Member of the Awards’ Jury in the category Research.
The festive programme concluded with musical performances by the tenor Francesco Grollo and the pianist Sergio La Stella.
The celebrations continued the next day with free-of-charge guided tours of the White Pyramid for 250 people organised by the Special Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Rome.