Tuesday, December 4, 2012


THE COLOSSEUM is getting its first major facelift in more than seven decades. 

This month, construction starts on a two-year project to build a protective cast iron barrier around Rome's 2,000-year-old Colosseum, where rocks and wall fragments have been falling for years.

A ring of metal columns will be placed between 5 and 15 meters (15 and 50 feet) from the amphitheater, and the privately funded project also includes removing grime from its massive facade. 

The restoration will take place in phases so the Colosseum stays open to an estimated 5 million visitors a year. 

Crumbling walls aren't the only troubles facing Italy's iconic attraction. An October report noted that the structure is leaning 16 inches to the south, and Roman authorities, who've fought an unsuccessful battle against aggressive "gladiators and centurions" posing for pictures with tourists, are trying to comply with a ministerial order to clean up the Colosseum's surroundings from illegal street vendors.

"It is not something that can be done in one day, because we also have to consider the families that are behind these people," city council superintendent Umberto Broccoli told reporters, adding that authorities had until May to resolve the issue.

And "in a separate measure to safeguard decorum," says the Australian Associated Press, Rome's mayor signed "a long-delayed decree allowing the closure of bars and restaurants which occupy too much outside space in Rome's historic streets and squares."

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