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  • When angry trade unions who represent the custodians that guard the Colosseum had imposed a 3-1/2 hour strike, tourists were left standing in long lines as the sun beat down upon their heads. Like the situation at Pompeii, this new cultural heritage disaster and the plight of the tourists made headlines worldwide, giving the managers of the Italian cultural heritage a well publicized black eye. Then came the news, delivered last week to Parliament: the Cultural Heritage Ministry has unpaid bills of some $50 million, caused by repeated budget cuts. Worst of all, funds to pay for work to protect and maintain the Italian heritage have been slashed by 58% in the past five years.