Colosseum's new director pledges to rid the area of the 'souk'

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Colosseum's new director pledges to rid the area of the 'souk'
Street vendors selling hats by the Colosseum. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The recently appointed director of the Colosseum has pledged to clear the “souk” surrounding the monument.


In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Alfonsina Russo said that illegal street hawkers must be cleared away from the square around the Colosseum and “legality restored”.

"Piazza del Colosseo is a souk, and we'll have to work to reach the goal of legality and also give the impression to those coming to Italy that it is a civilised country," she said.

Russo, who was appointed to the role last week by Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, also aspires to open up the amphitheatre to rock concerts as a way of returning it to its “original function”.

The Colosseum is in the midst of a multi-million-euro restoration funded by shoemaker Tod's, including a renovation of the arena floor.

“I want it to be a place frequented by ordinary people, where Romans can watch spectacles and wander around like people did during the time of the emperors,” Russo told the newspaper.

"It would be wonderful if Sting or Bono could perform here. I want a place that is living, vibrant, not just a museum which you visit once in your lifetime.”

Initial phases of the renovation project have also included spray-cleaning to get rid of centuries' worth of grime, strengthening of the northern and southern facades, and replacement of metal gates and barriers in the arches at ground level.

In October, the top levels of the monument were opened up to tourists for the first time in 40 years.

There are also plans for a new visitor centre and the renovation of the underground vaults where wild animals and prisoners destined for public execution were held ahead of their appearances before the Roman crowds.



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