Colosseum restoration plan unveiled

Long-awaited plans to restore Rome's Colosseum were presented by Italian culture minister Lorenzo Ornaghi and the mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno on 31 July.

The controversial plan, which is to take two and a half years, will see Italian shoe manufacturer Tod's provide the €25 million for the restoration work in return for use of the Colosseum as a marketing logo for the next 15 years.

Renovation work is to begin in early December, with the monument being covered in four floors of scaffolding until 2015. The plan will be conducted in three phases, with each phase being put out to tender separately, according to Rome's archaeological superintendent Mariarosaria Barbera.

The monument will remain open to visitors throughout, and Barbera said that when finished the Colosseum experience would be increased by 25 per cent, partly due to a visitor centre being built in the square opposite the amphitheatre.

The building's cracks will be repaired, the metal gates inside the ground-floor arches replaced and the monument will be returned to its original colour of white ochre.

The announcement comes immediately after experts have revealed that the structure is slanting about 40cm more on the south side than on the north because of what may be a fracture in its foundations. Any restoration that does not deal with cracks in the foundations would therefore be merely cosmetic.

Pressure is also growing for the Colosseum to become a pedestrian area as many believe that constant vibrations from surface traffic around the ancient monument are responsible for much of the damage to the structure. Rome’s mayor has suggested that traffic may be diverted to the Colle Oppio by 2015.