Restoration work on Rome’s Colosseum has begun, after almost three years of debate and delay.
A ceremony last week marked the official start of the project, while scaffolding began to cover part of the structure a month ago.
Diego Della Valle, founder and chief executive of the Italian fashion and luxury design brand Tod’s, has made 25 million euros available to restore one of the world’s most iconic monuments - a lasting symbol of ancient and imperial Rome.
Della Valle, who first announced his donation in 2010, lamented the years of delay at a news conference last week announcing the beginning of restoration work. Della Valle said he hoped the restoration work would be complete within three years, as planned, and that it will show Italy is capable of maintaining its valuable heritage. He urged the nation’s leaders to launch a serious plan to restore monuments and support tourism in order to revive Italy’s economy.
Della Valle said many of Italy’s tourist attractions “are literally falling apart,” and warned the state could no longer be expected to maintain its immense cultural wealth without additional private funding; however, he said, investors are scared away from backing public projects by excessive bureaucracy.
Italy’s Culture Minister Massimo Bray agreed, arguing that “tourism and culture should go hand in hand to re-launch the Italian economy. A constructive relationship between the institutions and the private sector, with clear rules and common objectives, can lead to positive results for our cultural heritage.”
The restoration plan is broken down into three phases. Restorers will first clean the facade, repairing cracks and removing temporary metal arches on the ground level. The Colosseum will be returned to its original white ochre color. The next phases will see the construction of a new visitor’s center outside the monument and restoration of the internal areas, including the underground cells underneath the arena floor.
Six million tourists visit the Colosseum every year, and they will be able to continue doing so during renovation work as there are no plans to close down the monument.