SUMMER SCHOOL: Study Visit to the archaeological site of Ercolano

At the last day of the Naples Summer School a group of delegates as well as pm4esd training participants visited the “Herculaneum Conservation Project” at Ercolano. The very purpose of this visit was to apply pm4esd concepts and techniques to a practical, real-life example learning about current project management practices in the management of tourism. Next to pm4esd trainer Silvia Barbone (jlag) the group was mainly guided by the project manager of the “International Centre for the Study of Herculaneum” Christian Biggi as well as three representatives of local stakeholders.

la-foto-4-442x330Leaving Naples by train we arrived at Ercolano station within less than hour and for only a couple of euros. At Ercolano station three representatives of local public and private stakeholders welcomed us and guided us to the archaeological site. Entering the site you pass over a bridging path “on top” of the excavations that leads you to the main entrance. You get not only quite a good overview over the entire site but also are left stunning and curious to learn more about it. Arriving in front of the main entrance we were very warmly welcomed by Christian Biggi, project manager of the “International Centre for the Study of Herculaneum” who came across very passionate and energetic, captivating the whole group. He guided us through the entire site and provided insights into management structures, challenges and the long-term perspective.

The project’s objectives were to address some of the most pressing threats to the survival of the site. The main focus herein has been on infrastructural problems namely roofing and drains. One important aim, as Christian Biggi told us, was to understand each of the conservational problems in its very context, e.g. beam roof house. Moreover, they wanted to find easy but long-term solutions to each problem in order to prepare the site for the time after Packard would have been left again, particular regarding conservation risks as well as regular maintenance. When they first started they interviewed local people who had been working at the site in the past to discover some of the methodologies that had been used. Involving the community more is, in general, an integral part of the overall strategy.

participants-visite-vendredi-442x331The community is, according to Biggi, not only an important part of the strategy regarding the knowledge they possess but also a critical success factor of the overall project, for example regarding the realization of the benefits the project could deliver. A major challenge herein is to bring a sense of ownership to the community and making them seeing the positive outcomes the project could deliver to them such as increased overnight stays, selling local products to visitors or new business opportunities in the hospitality industry. As stated by Biggi, one major reason for the reluctance of the local community lies surely in the historical development where past regimes have expropriated residents for the purpose of excavations. Also regarding the future of “the Herculaneum Conservation Project” this issue plays a major role.


…from this trip include that the involvement of all stakeholders (public, private, academia as well as the community) and moreover involving the right people, that are passionate and feel ownership, is a crucial basis for the successful design and management of a project.

All participants were really happy to have had the chance to get such deep insights into a running project and discussions even continued later that day when enjoying local produced food at a restaurant that Biggi recommended to us, not far from the site. We like to thank Christian Biggi for having us and providing us with such a fascinating field visit. Moreover, we also like to thank our teacher Silvia Barbone for organizing the whole trip in the first place and enabling us this way to apply what we had just learned throughout the pm4esd practitioner course.



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