Rome metro row raises new fears for Colos­seum

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Arow over the fu­ture of Rome’s metro is threat­en­ing to de­lay ur­gent work to sta­bi­lize the Colos­seum, adding to fears for the an­cient am­phithe­atre af­ter Italy’s re­cent earth­quakes caused trou­bling cracks in its ex­te­rior walls. The 2,000-year-old, part­lyru­ined struc­ture was al­lo­cated four mil­lion eu­ros in 2014 to carry out re­in­force­ments deemed nec­es­sary to off­set the im­pact of tun­nel­ing for a new un­der­ground train line which will pass close by. But the money was never re­leased and guardians of the city’s ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage now fear it never will be af­ter new mayor Vir­ginia Raggi an­nounced she plans to dis­solve the un­der­ground com­pany, Roma Metropoli­tana.

“By liq­ui­dat­ing Roma Metropoli­tana, the mayor has left us with­out any­one to deal with re­gard­ing the fi­nanc­ing needed for the ur­gent strength­en­ing of the Colos­seum,” a spokesman for the su­per­in­ten­dent of the city’s ar­chae­o­log­i­cal trea­sures told AFP. The su­per­in­ten­dent him­self, Francesco Pros­peretti, has warned that he will seek to block any fur­ther work on the still-un­fin­ished metro ex­ten­sion if the funds are not re­leased.

“The Colos­seum can­not wait any longer,” Pros­peretti told Italian me­dia. “As a ci­ti­zen I would not like to de­lay the metro but as the de­fender of this mon­u­ment I may not have any choice.” Raggi has said work on the metro project will con­tinue with new man­age­ment pro­gres­sively re­plac­ing Roma Metropoli­tana, an or­ga­ni­za­tion she has ac­cused of over­see­ing the “shame­ful squan­der­ing of pub­lic funds.” The new line is sup­posed to run from the city cen­ter to the east­ern sub­urbs. Most of it opened last year but the fi­nal sec­tion, which will bring it into the Colos­seum area and con­nect with the cap­i­tal’s two other metro lines, re­mains un­fin­ished.

Started in 2007 with a bud­get of 2.2 bil­lion eu­ros ($2.4 bil­lion), the work is now fore­cast to cost at least 3.7 bil­lion and Raggi has put plans for a north­ern ex­ten­sion of the line on in­def­i­nite hold. Earth­quakes in cen­tral Italy on Au­gust 24, Oc­to­ber 26 and Oc­to­ber 30 were pow­er­ful enough in Rome to re­sult in a num­ber of new cracks ap­pear­ing in the Colos­seum’s ex­te­rior walls. But Italy’s top tourist at­trac­tion has re­mained open to the pub­lic. The land­mark site has sur­vived dozens of earth­quakes over the cen­turies al­though it was a tremor that led to the col­lapse of its south­ern wall in 1703.

Pros­peretti said work was most ur­gently re­quired on in­te­rior walls in the top sec­tion of the struc­ture, which is not open to the pub­lic. The ex­te­rior of the Colos­seum has re­cently been given a facelift thanks to a three-year clean-up fi­nanced by the up­mar­ket fash­ion and footwear com­pany Tod’s. — AFP

A gen­eral view shows the scaf­fold­ings of the Colos­seum (Coli­seum) dur­ing the restora­tion funded by Italian brand ‘Tod’s’ in Rome. — AFP pho­tos

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