Gucci to Fund Project to Save Rome’s Historic Rock of Execution
Gucci is one of the most famous fashion brands in the world. The Italian company has announced that they are funding a restoration project in the heart of Rome. They are paying for work that will restore a crumbling cliff, known as the Tarpeian Rock, which was once a place of execution in ancient Rome.
The Tarpeian Rock is situated in the most historic part of Rome. It is located near the Forum and not far from the Colosseum. The rock is on the southern side of the Capitoline Hill, one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. Until the first century AD, those who committed capital crimes were thrown from the rock. According to the Daily Telegraph ‘even by the bloody standards of the ancient Romans, it was a particularly grisly way to die.
The Tarpeian Rock has deteriorated over the years. ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )
Traitors hurled to their deaths
Those who were thrown from the rock on the cliff were typically found guilty of treason or perjury . Many well-known Roman traitors were hurled to their deaths from the height. Slaves who had stolen from, or disobeyed their masters were also thrown from the eminence. Victims hurled from the cliff would fall 75 feet (25 meters) and if the fall did not kill them outright, they were simply left there to die. Their bodies would be left there as a warning to others, especially to the Roman political elite who would regularly gather on the Capitoline Hill not far from the Tarpeian Rock .
The rock or cliff, according to Roman legends , is named after a vestal virgin and daughter of a Roman noble. The story goes that she offered to betray the city when it was besieged by Rome’s archenemies the Sabines, in return for a bounty of warriors’ golden bracelets. However, the Sabines cheated her and killed her, either by crushing her or hurling her from the cliff.
Despite its historical importance, ‘the legendary site lies overgrown and often overlooked’ according to the local.ie website. It is now rarely visited by tourists and has been long neglected, despite the fact that it is located near the popular Capitoline Museum. These days, this important site is ‘covered in weeds and rubbish and intermittently blocked off with security tape’ reports the local.ie.
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The Tarpeian Rock and surrounding area as it appeared in 2008. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )
A crumbling cliff
According to the Daily Telegraph, pieces “of tufa rock and clods of earth crumbled from the Tarpeian Rock last summer in what city officials called ‘a mini-landslide’.” This raised concerns about the integrity of the site and also there were concerns expressed about safety. It became clear that urgent restoration work was needed to save this historic place, which played such an important role in the history of Rome.
However, there was a problem. The local municipality did not have the budget to pay for the restoration work. This was when Gucci offered to help save the ancient landmark. The Florence-based fashion company offered to pay for the work that will ensure that the cliff will not collapse and the rock be lost as a result of some landslide. They are also giving funds to redevelop the historic site and its surrounding area. According to the local.ie, “Gucci will pay for a ‘restyling’ of the area that will clear paths around the rock, install new lighting and reopen gardens that have lain closed for years.”
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The Tarpeian Rock is now neglected and rarely visited by tourists. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )
Italian fashion brands funding restoration projects
It is believed that the work will take up to 18 months and according to ANSA Gucci has pledged to spend €1.6 million ($1.8 million). There are ambitious plans and the aim of the project is not only to save the Tarpeian Rock but to rejuvenate the area. The Mayor of Rome hopes that the location can be turned into high profile tourist destination and it could even host cultural events and social celebrations. The involvement of Gucci will no doubt help to generate a lot of interest in the restored area.
Gucci is committed to helping to preserve the heritage of Italy and it has already funded the restoration of the famous Boboli Gardens in Florence. There is a growing trend, for Italian fashion houses and brands to fund restoration projects. The Daily Telegraph reports that ‘Fendi paid for the cleaning of the Trevi Fountain , the shoe company Tod’s stumped up $28 million for the restoration of the Colosseum’. Bulgari, renowned for its accessories and perfumes has also contributed funding to other restoration projects.
Italian fashion companies are keen to associate themselves with these conservation and restoration projects because they help to promote their brand. The funding that they and other companies provide is crucial. Italy has more UNESCO heritage sites than any other country in the world but spends less than average. This is why Gucci and other companies’ money are so important in the conservation of Italy’s history.
Top image: There was a ‘mini landslide’ at the Tarpeian Rock last year. Source: CC BY-SA 4.0
By Ed Whelan