Rome closes Colosseum during Chinese state visit

3,500 police on duty in Rome for visit of Chinese president.

The Colosseum and the surrounding area will be closed to the public on the afternoon of Friday 22 March, while Trajan's Markets will be shut for the entire day, for security reasons related to the visit of China's president Xi Jinping.

The Chinese leader will be given exclusive tours of both ancient sites, with similiar security arrangements expected when China's First Lady Peng Liyuan visits Palazzo Colonna and Galleria Borghese on the same day.

There are two high-security "green zones" in Rome for the duration of China's state visit, from 21-23 March, with reports of 3,500 police on duty.

Much of the city centre is currently off-limits as well as the Parioli area where Xi and his entourage of more than 200 people is staying.

The Chinese leader is in Rome as part of a wider European visit to seek support for China's global trade infrastructure programme, the $1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as the New Silk Road.

During the visit Xi will hold talks with Italy's president Sergio Mattarella and Italy's premier Giuseppe Conte, as well as parliamentary leaders.

It is the first visit by a Chinese head of state to Italy in 10 years.

Photo AP/Andrew Medichini