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Italy culture minister wades into row over Travis Scott concert in Rome

Sangiuliano says Circus Maximus was not suitable venue for Travis Scott concert.

Italy's culture minister has waded into the debate over the concert by American rapper Travis Scott at the Circus Maximus on Monday night, saying the venue was "not suitable" for such an event.

Acknowledging that the ancient site "has always hosted concerts, big and small, and is suitable for hosting events", Gennaro Sangiuliano said that in the case of Travis Scott it would have been better to opt for an alternative location.

"We needed a more suitable venue for his show" - Sangiuliano told La Repubblica newspaper on Thursday - "the capital has many to offer."

The minister stepped in after a controversy erupted over the Scott concert whose vibrations from 60,000 people jumping up and down resulted in alarmed Rome residents calling emergency services fearing an earthquake.

Sangiuliano said that technical requirements - in particular one obliging organisers to remind performers not to incite the public into "jumping simultaneously" - were not adhered to at the concert by Scott who was joined onstage by Kanye West in a surprise appearance.

On Tuesday the director of the Colosseum archaeological park, which includes the Palatine hill parallel to the Circus Maximus, called for an end to "mega rock concerts" at the landmark venue which she claimed was being put at risk.

"Not a stadium or a concert hall"

"The Circus Maximus is a monument, not a stadium or a concert hall" - Alfonsina Russo told AGI news agency - "it has underground tunnels, archaeological areas, you can't jump on it for hours, in tens of thousands."

Russo suggested that the ancient chariot-racing site could stage opera and ballet events but stressed that "rock concerts should be held in stadiums".

However Sangiuliano said that in relation to selecting concert performers at the Circus Maximus it "would be wrong to have a prejudicial approach, without assessing case by case".

Pepper spray

Around 60 people at the concert required medical treatment for eye and throat irritation after pepper spray was used in the audience, leading the crowd to surge dangerously.

Separately a 14-year-old boy was taken to hospital after falling four metres into a recess on the Palatine hill after trying to bypass security to sneak into the concert.


Italian culture undersecretary Vittorio Sgarbi fully backed Russo whose views on the unsuitability of the Circus Maximus as a concert venue he said were "correct" and "irreproachable".

"Possessed exaltation, pepper spray and decibels so exaggerated as to suggest an earthquake are aberrations that go beyond all norms", Sgarbi said, adding: "the Circus Maximus requires respect."

Surreal controversy

However the city's councillor for tourism and major events Alessandro Onorato on Wednesday strongly defended the Travis Scott concert and blasted the controversy as "surreal".

In a video shared on his Facebook page Onorato said that each concert generated about €350,000, the "highest rent in the world", which the superintendency uses to maintain and protect the city's many archaeological sites.

Last year the Circus Maximus generated €2.1 million from events, a figure set to be matched if not exceeded this year, according to Onorato.

"There were 60,000 young people with an average age of 20 at the Circus Maximus and zero accidents," Onorato said of the Travis Scott concert, stressing that the pepper spray incident was caused by "some criminal thugs" who tried unsuccessfully to rob the cashier of a bar.

He also said pointedly that the boy who fell "hurt himself not at the Circus Maximus, but in the area of the Colosseum archaeological park, where the director is Alfonsina Russo, the same person who caused the row. Perhaps if she had controlled her site better, he would not have been hurt".

As debate rages over the future of the Circus Maximus as a concert site, Minister Sangiuliano told La Repubblica that it would be "among the many issues" to be discussed by culture chiefs at a meeting he has convened next week on the Ferragosto public holiday.

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Address Via del Circo Massimo, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

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Italy culture minister wades into row over Travis Scott concert in Rome

Via del Circo Massimo, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

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