Italy earmarks €18m to rebuild Colosseum floor

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A man dressed as a centurion walks past the Colosseum. Photo: Filippo Monteforte AFP
08:21 CEST+02:00
Italy has earmarked over €18 million to rebuild the arena floor in the Colosseum where gladiators once fought wild beasts, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said on Tuesday.

"A promise kept: the Colosseum will have its arena once more. Plan for reconstruction financed," he said on Twitter after announcing €18.5 million euros for a refurbishment which could see the ancient space host modern day cultural events.

In total, the cultural ministry approved €80 million euros worth of investments in the country's museums and heritage sites.

Of that, €18 million will go towards enlarging the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, while five million has been set aside for the Museum of Ancient ships in Pisa, where nine Roman cargo ships discovered in 1998 are set to goon display.

Franceschini said in December last year that he hoped to rebuild the wooden and sand floor in Rome's famous 2,000-year-old monument, after it was removed by excavators in the late 19th century.

The idea is that the arena could be used once more to house events and perhaps even re-enactments of spectacular Roman-era shows, while the area below where the beasts, scenery and props were kept would be turned into a museum.

The biggest amphitheatre built during the Roman empire, the Colosseum stands 48.5 metres (159 foot) high. In Roman times, up to 80,000 spectators would throng there to see gladiator greats such as Carpophores - who reportedly defeated a bear, lion, leopard and rhinoceros in one battle - or cheer on mock sea battles held in the flooded arena.

It now welcomes over six million visitors a year.

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Long-delayed repairs, funded to the tune of €25 million by Italian billionaire Diego Della Valle, began in 2013 and are expected to be finished in early 2016.

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