Sun, Jan 17, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Tomb in Rome fetches US$1.35m

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATIONThe prospect of lying close to famous artists and personalities drove up the price for one of Rome’s most-sought after resting plot

THE GUARDIAN , ROME

It is unquestionably a desirable residence, with its imposing entrance flanked by fine neoclassical columns. And it is in one of the leafiest and most sought-after parts of Rome.

So it is perhaps not surprising that, when it came up for auction, it fetched 938,000 euros (US$1.35 million). But there is a snag: You have to be dead to live in it.

The Azienda Municipale Ambientale (AMA), the municipal body, which in Rome is disconcertingly charged with both waste disposal and the burial of the dead, was on Friday celebrating the outcome of an auction of tombs that suggested Romans are as concerned about their accommodation in the next life as they are in this.

“We certainly weren’t prepared for the sale of a tomb for 938,000 euros,” said AMA’s managing director, Franco Panzironi.

Among properties on sale for the same price on Friday was a three-bedroom apartment in a block on the edge of one of Rome’s loveliest parks.

AMA announced last year that it was putting up for auction 34 tombs and mausoleums that had fallen into decay after failing to trace the surviving members of the families that built them.

The final resting place that fetched the highest price is a roofed structure like a tiny chapel. It stands in a tree-shaded corner of the prestigious Verano cemetery, where its eventual occupant will lie alongside some of Rome’s most illustrious citizens, including the novelist Alberto Moravia, the actor Marcello Mastroianni and the cinema directors Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica.

A similar structure went for 500,000 euros. AMA had expected to raise just more than 2 million euros.

“We have so far sold 28 for 6 million euros,” Panzironi said.

The money will go towards cemetery upkeep.

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