The most emblematic story is that of the Colosseum, if only for the fame of the monument and for its economic attractiveness when it comes to enhancement. The concession of the additional services of the best known and most visited amphitheater in the world has been extended for 25 years. Thanks to the overlapping of legislative innovations and the difficulty of fine-tuning the new calls, which have been repeatedly implemented by the administrative judges, since 1997 there have been no changes in the management of the ticket office, guided tours, bookshop, audio guides, exhibitions and of catalogs.
The problem, however, is not only the Flavian amphitheater, which in 2019, before Covid, attracted 7.6 million visitors and collected 57.5 million euros from tickets, but also other cultural sites. From those equally well known – such as Pompeii, Paestum, the Appia Antica, the Uffizi, Herculaneum, Ostia Antica – to places of culture that are less frequented but not of lesser value. The extension of concessions is often the rule, at least where the management of additional services has not even ceased due to a tangled situation that has dragged on for years, between various rewrites of the guidelines of the calls for tenders and the difficulty of finding a summary between the interests of the concessionaires, who look to the most “profitable” monuments, and the need of the Ministry of Culture to guarantee the same dignity of enhancement to museums and “minor” archaeological areas, perhaps by putting them online.
The upcoming races
Also for this reason, in 2015 Consip was called into question to try to unravel the problem and recently the Ministry of Culture turned to Anac, the anti-corruption Authority, to supervise the tender for the assignment of the ticket office services of the Colosseum, next to see the light. As well as eight other calls are in the starting blocks, even if the one relating to the archaeological park of Paestum is still in an investigation phase and the Museums Direction of the Ministry of Culture expects its publication next November.
For the other tenders, on the other hand, the estimated times are shorter: it is hoped to award them within the year or at the latest – in the case of museums in Umbria – in the first quarter of 2023. On the other hand, the call for tenders is more advanced. the catering services of Pompeii, which was published on 11 February last and for which offers can be submitted until 14 March next (see the sheet on the side).
So, try again. And this time we must also take into account the impact of Covid, with the prolonged closures of places of culture. This is why, in addition to the concession, it was foreseen – precisely with the emergency legislation launched during the pandemic (Legislative Decree 76/2020) – that for the assignment of additional services, public procurement can also be used, which exposes the winner because it provides greater flexibility in the tender award rules. With this in mind, the Ministry of Culture and Consip have also developed safeguard clauses to prevent possible aftermath of the health emergency: any persistent drop in visitors would, in fact, be rebalanced, in favor of the service manager, with the extension of the concession period or with the reduction of the fees to be paid to the State.