Italy’s culture minister has announced €18.5m has been earmarked to rebuild the floor of the Colosseum, where gladiators fought to the death.
Dario Franceschini declared on Twitter yesterday: ‘A commitment maintained: the Colosseum will have its arena. Funded the project for reconstruction.’
The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built, and attracts over six million visitors a year in Rome. Built between 72-80 AD under the order of emperor Vespasian, the concrete and stone structure stands at 48.5 metres in height and is an enduring symbol of Roman Imperial might.
Franceschini said in December 2014 that he hoped to rebuild the wooden and sand floor of the 2,000 year old structure – removed by excavators in the late 19th century – as part of plans to bring it into modern use as an events space.
Hopefully these events will be more savoury than the gladiator contests, mock sea battles and executions of the Roman period, which ‘entertained’ between 50-80,000 spectators.
Italian billionaire Diego Della Valle, president of Tod’s leather goods company, has stumped up €25m to fund repairs to the site, which began in 2013. Work is expected to be completed next year.
‘In Italy, the culture issue is very urgent. Over 50% of the world’s cultural heritage is in our country, but more than often it is left to decay,’ Della Valle said in an interview with Forbes last year. ‘Besides being an important economic resource, we have the duty to protect this heritage for everyone.’
Of that sum, €18 has been earmarked to renovate the Uffizi Gallery in Florence while €5m has been set aside for the Ship Museum in Pisa, where nine Roman ships – discovered in 1998 – will go on display to the public after extensive conservation.