The Roman Colosseum Gets a Facelift

If you are planning a trip to Rome, be prepared to see a new look for the Colosseum– scaffolding. A three-phase restoration project has cloaked the iconic landmark in metal tubing, giving it a strange hybrid look of antiquity meets modern. The project, which had been delayed for three years by consumer associations and trade unions, finally began last fall. It is expected to be finished in 2015 and the Colosseum will remain open during this time.

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The Colosseum, also known as Flavian’s Amphitheater, was commissioned by Emperor Flavian between 70-72 A.D. In 80 A.D. Flavian’s son, Titus, officially opened the amphitheater with 100 days of games. It could hold about 45,000-50,000 spectators who regularly gathered for the gladiatorial games and animal fights that were so popular at the time. But time has taken a toll on the massive structure, and while government funds have helped to keep it from ruin, far more money was needed. Enter Mr. Diego Della Valle, owner of the luxury footwear empire, Tod’s.
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Mr. Della Valle committed 25M Euros in 2010 for a full-scale restoration. “I see it as an obligation. Italians who have had success and luck in life should give back to their country.” In return Tod’s has the rights to use the Colosseum’s logo for 15 years and to put its own brand on tickets bought by the millions of tourists who pay to see the monument each year. However, we need not worry about seeing a giant shoe on the outside of the famous landmark, as Mr. Della Valle said he had no intention of putting advertising on the monument’s exterior.

During the first phase of the project, the facade and entrances will be rebuilt. Cracks will be repaired and it will be cleaned and returned to its original ochre color. The second phase will add an area for tourist services outside the Colosseum; and the third phase includes restoration of the internal area and the underground cells (hypogeum) beneath the arena floor.

Apparently, Mr. Della Valle’s words have been heeded. Fendi plans to restore Rome’s Trevi Fountain and Renzo Rosso, the owner of Diesel, has pledged to restore Venice’s Rialto Bridge. “It’s an economic opportunity”, says Mr. Della Valle. “It’s an extraordinary way to employ our citizens.”

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