Rome's Colosseum arena floor could be restored

Culture minister backs plan by Italian archaeologist

Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini has added his support to the proposed rebuilding of the Colosseum's arena floor, rendering it the way it was until being fully exposed about a century ago.

The idea, which would allow visitors to stand in the arena once occupied by gladiators in combat, was raised in the July edition of the Archeo journal by Rome archaeologist Daniele Manacorda. Manacorda claimed that not only would the new floor be appreciated by tourists, it could also allow the amphitheatre to stage events once more.

The archaeologist argues that by its definition, a basement should be underground and is not designed to be exposed to the elements.

Voicing his firm approval for the idea, Franceschini posted photographs on Twitter of how the Colosseum arena looked over 100 years ago, tweeting: "All that is needed is a bit of courage." In the days of imperial Rome, the sand-covered wooden arena floor was built over a network of tunnels and cells where animals and gladiators were caged before contests began.

The Colosseum is currently undergoing a €25-million restoration project financed by shoe magnate Diego Della Valle.