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It's one of the best known amphitheaters from the ancient Roman Empire and for the first time in 73 years, the Colosseum is scheduled for a full-fledged restoration. The southern edge of the arena has apparently sagged almost 16 inches downward over the last several decades. Engineers and professors from Rome's La Sapienza University claim that there could be a crack or weakness in the massive oval foundation the Colosseum rests on, and constant vibrations from busy Roman traffic could also be affecting the slump.
The media are describing it as the "Leaning Tower of Pisa effect," but the reality is that the integrity of the structure shouldn't be compromised. Rome's archaeological superintendent Mariarosaria Barber insists that the 13 meter deep foundations are strong enough to "not only stand up to centuries--they stand up to millennia," and that there is no Tower of Pisa effect.
The project includes reinforcing the dipped walls and cleaning the whole site from top to bottom. The estimated 25 million Euro endeavor will begin in December 2012 and wrap up some time in 2015. Because of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit each year, careful steps will be taken to keep the majority of the landmark available to visit at any given time.
The goal is to open about 25% more of the Colosseum to the public once the restorations are complete. Highlights will include more underground tunnels, storage areas and gladiator cages for viewing. Romans and visitors alike have Tod's, a luxury shoe and leather goods company, to thank for sponsoring the work that will be done.
Book a car rental in Rome to see this wonder of the world for yourself!