A phone-call from a civil defence volunteer at about 17.00 on Sunday 7 August warning of a bomb in the Colosseum caused security forces to evacuate and cordon off the monument.

Fire-fighters found the suspicious package, wrapped in tape and with protruding wires, and carabinieri carried out a controlled explosion.

A police spokesman later stated the package had been found in a hole in the wall of the first upper level. It contained a half-full can of white spirit and a 9v battery, but could not have caught fire, or even less exploded.

About a thousand tourists were evacuated from the monument during the operation, and many remained to hear the muffled bang of the controlled explosion at about 18.30. Many also protested that they wanted their