Rome's Colosseum might be leaning slightly but its stability is not in
danger, said officials who on Tuesday announced that the ancient amphitheatre
is about to undergo its first comprehensive restoration in 73 years.
An Italian newspaper reported at the weekend that the Colosseum, famous for
hosting bloody gladiator fights in the days of the Roman Empire, was about 40
cm (16 inches) lower on the south side than on the north, suggesting it was in
The Italian media described it as the "leaning tower of Pisa effect".
"There is no problem with its stability," Mariarosaria Barbera, Rome's
archaeological superintendent, told a news conference.
"We are talking about a structure whose foundations are 13 meters (yards)
deep. Roman constructions do not only stand up to centuries, they stand up to
millennia," she said.
"We are monitoring it but there is no Tower of Pisa effect," Barbera said
at the unveiling of the 25 million euro (S$38.5 million) restoration project
which will start in December and end in 2015.
The project, which had been delayed by three years of bureaucratic problems,
will include the cleaning and restoration of the entire Colosseum, known in
Roman times as the Flavian Amphitheatre.
It will be carried out in phases so that the Colosseum, which receives hundreds
of thousands of visitors a year, will remain open.
Only part of it will be covered by scaffolding at any one time.
"The monument is so big that there won't be too much inconvenience for
visitors," Barbera said.
An underground visitors centre will be built under an adjacent piazza, freeing
up more areas inside the monument, which are currently used as meeting points
and ticket stalls.
Overall, some 25 per cent more of the Colosseum will be open to visitors after
the restoration, particularly the underground network of tunnels, storerooms
Two thirds of the underground parts are currently not open to the public.
A worker rides on a boom lift as he checks for the new start of restoration of
Rome's ancient Colosseum, on July 31, 2012.
The Colosseum is leaning and needs urgent repairs but the long-delayed
restoration project has been pushed back to December, the site's director said