Another tourist carves into the Colosseum

A tourist was reported to police after using a Swiss Army knife to carve into the Colosseum, the latest such incident to befall the world-famous monument.

Another tourist carves into the Colosseum
Writing carved into the Colosseum. Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The 40-year-old Austrian woman carved the letters “M.D.S.” into a pillar before being caught by Colosseum staff.

She was subsequently taken to the mobile police unit outside the ancient monument, where she was identified before being taken to a Rome police station.

The Austrian was released on bail after being charged with aggravated damage of a building of historic and artistic interest. Her knife was also seized, Il Messaggero reported.

The case is unfortunately not the first of its kind at the Colosseum, which is currently undergoing restoration work to the tune of €25 million.

In July a Lebanese woman used a coin to carve into the monument, just days after a Bulgarian international footballer was also caught in the act.

Italian authorities issued a stern warning against such acts last November, when they fined a Russian man €20,000 for vandalizing the Colosseum. Similar incidents were also reported last August, when two people carved their entire names into the building.

Theft has proved an additional problem, with a Canadian teen last summer caught with a “souvenir” brick in her backpack.

But there are other challenges plaguing the Colosseum this autumn, with the site closed to tourists on Friday for a union meeting of security staff.

The meeting came without warning and angered both visitors and Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, who reacted with a measure to turn the site into an “essential public service” to prevent further closures. 

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‘High-tech and green’: The new restoration plan for Rome’s Colosseum

Visitors will soon be able to stand in the centre of Rome's famed Colosseum following a revamp using "super technological and green" materials, according to plans unveiled at the weekend.

'High-tech and green': The new restoration plan for Rome's Colosseum
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

As anyone who has ever visited Rome’s Colosseum will know, the arena – where everything from gladiator battles to executions and countless other public spectacles took place – is not accessible.

But that’s about to change, and visitors will soon be able to see the ancient amphitheatre as the gladiators did, with plans to build a high-tech retractable floor over the ruined central area.

The Italian minister of culture announced the winning bid to restore the arena on Sunday, a project that will allow visitors to view the archeological wonder from ground level as soon as 2023. 

The 2,000 year old structure is currently floorless other than a small platform.

Rome’s landmark Colosseum is currently without a floor, other than a small platform, which is occasionally used for concerts. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

The ruins of the underground levels’ walls and tunnels are exposed due to a combination of earthquakes, stone pillaging and natural erosion. 

The new floor will also enable these underground chambers, where gladiators and wild animals awaited their ascension to the killing floor, to be properly ventilated for the first time.

A Milan engineering firm beat 10 competitors who answered a 2020 call for submissions with its vision involving rotating wooden slats.

“It is an ambitious project that will help better conserve and safeguard the archaeological structures,” said culture minister Dario Franceschini.

Franceschini plans to host the Rome G20 culture summit at the Colosseum in July and it may serve as a venue for other major cultural events.

The Colosseum’s executive archaeologist Alfonsina Russo said construction of the arena – which will be the subject of a Europe-wide call for bids of about 15 million euros – should begin by the end of the year or early 2022.

She said the new 3,000 square metre (32,300 square foot) floor should be ready for visitors in 2023.

Before the pandemic around 25,000 people toured the world-famous monument daily, and some 18.5 million euros have been set aside for the project.

The plan presented on Sunday consists of an entirely removable structure made of accoya, a modified, durable wood.

The slats will be rigged with a rotation system meant to permit light and air to circulate to underground passages below the area.

The rainwater that currently pools there will be collected and used to supply the toilets of Rome’s most visited monument.