Rome's Colosseum leaning slight, but not in danger-officials

Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:49pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - 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 danger.

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 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.   Continued...

An empty Fori Imperiali street in front of ancient Colosseum is seen in Rome during the Euro 2012 final soccer match between Italy and Spain July 1, 2012. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini