One of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions is getting a makeover, after nearly 2 000 years of neglect. The project to restore the Colosseum, which began in 2013, is funded by billionaire Diego Della Valle, owner of luxury brand Tod’s, and will involve a multiphase restoration on the landmark’s exterior and interior.
Made of concrete and sand, the Colosseum was built around AD 70-72 at the request of Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. It functioned as the country’s entertainment hub for gladiatorial contests, dramas, public spectacles and animal hunts, holding an audience of 50 000 to 80 000. To date, it’s still the largest amphitheatre ever built.
Over the centuries that followed, the condition of this historical landmark, a UNESCO World Heritage site, slowly worsened. That’s when Della Valle stepped in to take on one of the biggest and most expensive restoration projects in the world.
"Restoring such an important monument, a worldwide symbol of Italy, which carries a strong synergy between public and private sector, is a motivation which we would like followed by others, commencing with the large Italian businesses,” says Della Valla on the Amici del Colosseo website, a non-profit association created by the Tod’s Group. “The Italian cultural assets represent a unique heritage of beauty no-one else owns. Bringing them back to their original status will allow us to improve tourism in Italy and build more companies and employment, especially for younger generations.”
The first phase of the restoration process included the cleaning of the northern and southern facades by spraying the exterior with room-temperature water and restoring damaged areas of the structure. The next phase of the restoration will focus on the Colosseum’s underground vaults and passageways.
No date has been released as to when the project will be completed. But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, either!