Bringing the Coliseum back to life (without the lions)
The public and private sectors work together to safeguard cultural heritage and Italy is leading the way
In recent years, Italian fashion houses have been leading the way, partnering to unleash the potential of the country’s heritage for economic development. Fendi completed the conservation of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, while Prada and Versace helped to bring the majestic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan to an online audience with the curation of a digital archive. The completion of another ambitious project has been unveiled this month at the historic Coliseum in Rome, in what has been praised by global media as a major act of modern-day cultural patronage. Tod’s Group, one of the Italian leading shoe companies, responded to a Government call to the private sector to invest in and conserve the Italy’s many cultural heritage treasures. On July 1, 2016 the first and most complex phase of the project was completed. This phase consisted of gently cleaning the monument and removing damage caused by pollution. Using state-of-the-art techniques, workers removed deposits of dust and grime from the exterior of the monument, while leaving the patina of the time. Thousands of people have been employed in this massive undertaking, leveraging the expertise of Italy’s best trained professionals, including archeologists, architects, engineers, specialized technicians and restorers. Tod’s donated 25 million euros for the entire project, thanks to an unprecedented tax relief initiative initiated by Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage to attract private investment. Now that the cleaning has been completed, the next phase of the project can begin. By the end of 2018, a new visitor center will be delivered. Built underground, without any visual impact on the area, it will provide visitors with amenities, services, and educational facilities, which will enrich the experience of visitors. In parallel, the Italian Government has provided 18 million euros that will finance the reconstruction of the arena, using techniques and solutions compatible with conservation, so that the Coliseum can eventually host events again and perform the function it was originally designed for. The Coliseum, built around 70-80 AD, about two thousand years ago, receives around 6 million visitors per year, generating about 40 million euros. This revenue is reinvested to manage and maintain the monument, as well as to cross-subsidize several other heritage sites in the city of Rome, which together make the city one of the most appreciated places to live and visit internationally.