The European Commission has called upon Italian authorities to save the UNESCO Pompeii site.FLICKR/ J S Pinkney

Italian authorities are not doing enough to save the crumbling ancient town of Pompeii despite receiving €78 million from the European Commission.

The commission has said authorities should do more to preserve the historical town, which was buried in 79AD by a blanket of volcanic ash that erupted from Mount Vesuvius.

Mount Vesuvius virtually destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD but the lava helped to preserve many bodies.Flickr/Creative Commons

An ancient wall at the Temple of Venus collapsed at the weekend following heavy rains and is the latest in a series of structural problems, including the partial collapse of the House of the Gladiators in November 2010.

The €78 million in EU funding that has been diverted to Pompeii was part of a total investment of €105 million.

The money, which has been managed by Italian authorities, was for long-term, high-tech structural works in the most at-risk areas.

It was also allocated for a water drainage system planned for a site overlooking the ancient buildings.

What happened at Pompeii?

Pompeii was a large Roman town in the Italian region of Campania which, together with nearby Herculaneum, was completely buried in volcanic ash following the eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.

When the area was excavated in the mid-18th century, engineers discovered a large number of artefacts in a near-perfect state of preservation.

The site of Pompeii has been under excavation to varying degrees since 1748. Exposure of the excavated site as well as poor excavation techniques mean that it has deteriorated over time.

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, Pompeii is one of Europe's most popular destinations for cultural tourism, attracting around 2.3 million visitors a year.

Source: European Commission

But European commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has called upon local, regional and national authorities in Italy to ensure that the ancient city of Pompeii is protected from further damage.

He said: "We work closely with the Italian authorities and have provided €78 million in funding from the EU Regional Funds for Pompeii since 2007.

"But the local, regional and national authorities must do more and coordinate better to ensure that the money being spent is used effectively and that Pompeii is saved for future generations."