The Italian Almanac

the Colosseum

Colosseum Needs Sponsors

The Colosseum needs an ``epochal`` project to make it safe for years to come, Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said. The city plans to call international sponsors to help the Colosseum make ``a leap in level`` that will stave off his ``daily worries`` about the state of the 2,000-year-old symbol of Rome. ``We`ll carry out a huge, epoch-making intervention,`` he said, likening the planned project to the one that restored the Sistine Chapel from 1984 to 1994.

Sponsorship would help a ``rapid and certain`` rescue for the endangered landmark, he said, reckoning that ``at least five million euros`` would be needed. Cultural Undersecretary Francesco Giro stressed that the building needed ``immediate restoration``. ``Some parts of it are falling off,`` he said, explaining that the project would ``involve the whole amphitheater, from the foundations up to the third ring of arcades``.

The Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and Diocletian`s Baths are also set for repair next year, Giro noted, while an extra effort is needed over coming years to complete other current digs and restoration work. The whole of the ancient city`s heart must be refurbished, he said, calling for a boost to allocated funds of 40 million euros so that many fenced-off areas can be reopened. But the heart of the effort to kickstart the works remains the Colosseum, Mayor Alemanno stressed, calling for an ``adequate and swift execution of this operation``.

The Colosseum or the Flavian Amphitheatre (its proper name) is perhaps the most visited archeological site and museum in the world with some four million visitors a year. Construction on the city`s iconic monument started between 70 and 72 AD under the Emperor Vespasian. It was completed in 80 AD by Titus, who financed the project from the booty his armies seized in the war against the Jews in 66-70 AD.