N E W S
October 2013 - RESTORATION WORKS AND CONTROVERSY n. 9 - AT LAST !!!
The restoration works have started on the Colosseum! The monument was officially "entrusted" to the Gherardi company, that immediately started to build the impressive scaffolding (see pictures) on the facade, up to the top floor of the monument . The scaffolding should remain in place for two and a half years. The monument would remain open to the public during construction.
The project will also monitor the dynamic vibrations that officials fear have caused a drop of up to 15 inches on the south side of the monument, although as yet there are no plans to address the problem. The restoration works also include the construction of a tourist service centre outside the monument, while the third phase includes restoration of the internal area and a more comprehensive restoration of the underground cells or hypogeum beneath the arena.
August 2013 - RESTORATION WORKS AND CONTROVERSY n. 8
New episode of the judiciary conflict that since November 2011 saw the Codacons oppose the sponsorship entrusted to the group of Diego Della Valle for the restoration of the Colosseum, first with an appeal to the Regional Administrative Court, rejected July 3, 2012, then with the appeal to the Council of State.
The latter, in a ruling published on 31 July 2013, decided that the Codacons (a consumers ' association) which challenged the awarding procedures and the alleged inconsistency between the financing and the commercial exploitation of the transaction by Tod’s - was "not entitled to bring an action," both as an association for the protection of the environment and as association for the protection of consumers.
So the restoration could begin ...
But there's more: Codacons has already announced they will appeal the ruling of the State Council in the Supreme Court, also because there seems to be another legal battle: the dispute between the Gherardi company, winner of the bid for the first part of the works, and the Lucci company, runner, which disputes the award of the contract. The Regional Administrative Court had rejected the appeal of Lucci.
The Council of State has postponed the decision on the appeal presented by Lucci to an assembly of the Plenary Conference of, as it happens in the most controversial cases. There may be, in fact, months before we know the final decision. Because of this the ministry and superintendence do not make official the schedule of the works, even if, in fact, the building site began two weeks ago, as the Ministry of Cultural Heritage had to deliver the area to Gherardi, as the Council of State in March had not authorized the suspension of the work requested by Lucci.
We will proceed with the preliminary stage of the works (only the construction of scaffolding will require 40 days), waiting in the meantime that the last problems are solved.
Codacons meanwhile warned: "If the works will begin before the pronouncements of the Supreme Court and of the Council of State, those responsible will have to assume their responsibilities."
This time I find the message of Codacons annoying and a bit depressing: "... those responsible will have to assume their responsibilities ...” In a normal world that would be clear from the beginning. Instead in this matter no one took responsibilities - for years.
And will Codacons assume its responsibility for having put obstacles to this works? What are the real reasons for this conflict?
I do not understand yet, as a mere reader of newspapers and internet, the behavior of Codacons, which in order to block the works puts its nose into private matters (the outcome of the battle-Gherardi Lucci).
The question has long become grotesque, and is another example of the inability of the administrators to conclude anything; they actually have delegated to the courts the management of these things.
Meanwhile, despite numerous sentences, the millions of Della Valle are still unused, while they were available since November 2011 (see Restoration and controversy n. 1). What a pity!
P.S. Carlo Rienzi, the founder and current president of Codacons, keeps a blog called "The blog of the pain in the ass" ...
June 22, 2013 - MORE CLOSURES OF THE COLOSSEUM?
The meeting at the Coliseum on Thursday morning, with the closure of the monument from 8.30 to 12, it was only the beginning. The employees of the Ministry of Culture, in fact, are preparing for a week of protests, which could cause additional inconvenience to tourists and the public libraries, state archives and museums. Tomorrow, from 9 to 11, the union FLP has launched a new assembly at the amphitheatre; in case of high adhesion there could be another temporary closure of the monument together with the Roman Forum and the Palatine.
Given that the problem is broader and regards all Italian museums, in this case everybody complains and there isn’t anyone to work to solve the problems! The employees of museums complain about the harsh working conditions, the traders, restaurateurs, taxi drivers, street vendors etc... for the lost earnings; the Corriere della Sera furiously attacks the "strikers", which instead were holding a very authorized union meeting (pathetic: Please Corriere find other more credible targets to blame for the national ruin), and many are the opportunists that grab the chance to make a press release, be seen and attack the political enemy ("Marino, solve this problem"). In the end, the most relaxed ones were the tourists waiting in the heat, poor them ... And many of them had booked!
I understand that there are only 30 guards at the Coliseum, which must alternate in shifts. Some - maliciously - claim that many have been transferred behind a desk in an office, everybody knows that this is a practice in many areas of public employment: many try to avoid tasks that do not like, which often are not even remunerated. On the other hand, given the time of crisis and unemployment, to many this seems a luxury. Judge for yourself ...
June 22, 2013 - RESTORATION WORKS AND CONTROVERSY n. 7
For the beginning of the restoration of the Flavian Amphitheatre sponsored by Tod's we will have to wait for the Consiglio di Stato ruling on two appeals pending. The appeals have been lodged by: a) the consumer organisation Codacons b) the company that owns the truck bars and c) the company Lucci, runner-up in the tender for the works on the Colosseum won by the company Gherardi.
The Superintendent, who two weeks ago signed the executive project, is ready to give the green light to the construction site in the first week of July, if the Consiglio di Stato will be dismissed. The first stage of works will affect the top ten arches of the Colosseum over the full height of the northern prospect: the works, worth 6.5 million euro, are expected to last 915 days, or a little over two years.
In late July the third entrance of the archaeological area of the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill will open near the Arch of Titus.
June 20, 2013 - THE COLOSSEUM CLOSED FOR AN ASSEMBLY OF STAFF
The Colosseum closed for 4 hours for a special meeting of the workers of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Rome against wage cuts and staff reductions; tourists and visitors have been waiting to enter from 8.30 to 12, at which time, with half hour in advance, the gates were reopened.
This one of the Colosseum is an issue that regards more generally the state of crisis in which the Italian museums operate, mainly for lack of staff.
A note of the trade unions states that "the places of culture in Italy and Rome are open to the public more than in any other country in Europe: 11 hours a day for 6 or 7 days a week. Workers who make this possible are exhausted, due to the severe shortage of staff, and are exasperated because for more than nine months they haven’t been receiving about 20% of their salary. "
The unions CGIL of Roma and Lazio asks from the Minister Bray "a serious employment policy, to eliminate the policy of disguised work, which uses 'fake' volunteers, consultants and interns.'' '' The average number of workers in the Cultural Heritage is 54 years; many people with technical profiles and high professionalism retire and have no chance to pass on their skills, as there is no turnover because of the hiring freeze. Also, as a consequence of the spending review is not possible today to recruit new staff.''
The unions argue that staff shortages could lead to the closure of the museums and even to the lack of surveillance of the closed ones.
The President of Rome’s association of hotel owners and shopkeepers has stated that it is very serious that the Colosseum remained closed to visitors for the whole morning, leaving out hundreds of tourists who had bought, maybe some time in advance, the ticket to visit a treasure of the city and world.
5 February 2013 - RESTORATION WORKS #6 - It will be the company 'Gherardi ing.Giancarlo' to carry out the restoration of the Colosseum on both North and South sides and to make the new barriers for the ground floor arches. The Lazio Region Administrative Tribunal accepted the company's appeal against its exclusion from the bid.
In the end who lamented to be excluded has won, and the works will start - at last! As usual in Italy, it is a tribunal that decides who, what and when. My idea, as a simple news reader, is that the real story has not been told clearly. My impression is that we assisted to a dance of lawyers, judges, politicians, sovrintendenti etc. that support vested interests. At least Mr. Della Valle is clear: he hopes to get a positive feedback from his investment; but I wonder instead what are the interests of all those who put obstacles, made appeals, fought against....
February 2013 - Pedestrians and the Colosseum
It is moving these days also the front of those who would like the Colosseum to be a pedestrianised zone (horrible word, but it is English!). It will be in any case necessary to modify the traffic system in the area, because soon the works for the metro C subway will restrict Via dei Fori Imperiali just in front of the Colosseum. Many supporters of the pedestrianization would like to extend further the "protected" area. Maybe if things change - also politically - we will manage to implement - after two hundred years - the project to include the Fora, the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus and the Area of Caracalla Baths in a huge - and marvelous - park. I wish it was true....
Jan 2013 - FRESCOES FOUND IN THE COLOSSEUM
AFP agency writes:
ROME: Italian archaeologists have found brightly coloured fragments of frescoes depicting heroic and erotic scenes inside a corridor of the Colosseum in Rome, along with samples of ancient graffiti."We have found traces of decorations in blue, red and green," Rossella Rea, director of the 2,000-year-old amphitheatre, told AFP. The fragments "seem to depict the glory of the gladiator world, with laurels, arrows, victory wreaths and even erotic scenes," the Repubblica newspaper said.
The frescoes were found in a corridor currently closed to the public while archaeologists were working to restore an area between the second and third floor of the Colosseum, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years.
"We have also found writing dating back to the 17th century as well as the signatures of spectators and foreign visitors who had come to watch the Colosseum's famed gladiatorial contests and mock sea battles" Rea said. "We hope to be able to find other traces in this corridor but that depends on the funds available to continue with the restoration," she added.
The frescoes are located in an area covering several square feet in a corridor which is around sixty metres long, and should be open to the public by summer 2014, Rea said.
The Colosseum, which was completed in 80 AD by the Roman emperor Titus and is now one of the most visited sites in the world, is in a pitiful state. Bits of stone, blackened by pollution, have fallen off in previous years, and some experts have voiced concern that the foundations are sinking, giving the amphitheatre a lean. The number of visitors to the Colosseum, which measures 188 metres (620 feet) by 156 metres and is 48.5 metres high, has increased from a million to around six million a year over the past decade thanks mainly to the blockbuster film "Gladiator".
July 2012 - RESTORATION WORKS #5 -
The restoration works sponsored by Della Valle will start from December 2012 and it will cost 8 million Euro. This is, on paper, the schedule of the first phase of the restoration of the Colosseum.
Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno announced, in the euphoria of the election campaign, that the works would begin on July 31, but in fact that is only the day in which the minister for cultural heritage Lorenzo Ornaghi will hold a press conference to review the current situation. The minister did not like at all this anticipation by Alemanno, and would like to discuss other cultural initiatives as well.
There will be nearly three years of restoration, during which time, however, the monument will never shut. The plan of works supported by the sponsorship of Diego Della Valle seems to be marked by a still hypothetical calendar. The first step will be the restoration of the northern and the southern sides of the monument, along with the construction of new railings close the arches of the first order.
For this first contract, worth approximately EUR 8.3 million, the procedures for awarding a tender have already been carried out, provisionally awarding the works to the company that was first on the list. But for the final allocation will have to wait another month, even in the face of complaints that are preparing the other twenty competitors back in the ranking. Content delivery is scheduled for early December. The second phase of work will cover the building of the new service centre outside the Colosseum.
Its location should be on the embankment on the side of Via Celio Vibenna, an area of excavation that has already been studied and investigated during the construction of the metro line B, and therefore should not reveal many surprises from the archaeological point of view. The service centre will be a multifunctional complex for the visitors to the Colosseum, with ticket office, bookshop, cafeteria and toilets.
March 2012 - RESTORATION WORKS AND CONTROVERSY # 4
" Around the Colosseum there is an undergrowth of folklore and business that destroys any decorum and dignity". Rossella Rea, director of the monument, laments the gradual worsening of the situation, as a consequence of the authorizations to vendors released by the city Council without imposing any aesthetic canon. Rea counted fourteen stalls every day patrolling the streets: "One is attached to the main entrance, and the public can never understand where you enter. Some may even be stationed on the emergency exits. Not to mention the maintenance that continues to be insufficient. After the last snowfall the municipality threw salt on the antique travertine pavement, an inappropriate treatment that is likely to break the stones, and that forced us to clean with special vacuum cleaners.
The great effort that the state and private sponsors are doing on the Colosseum, also thanks to mayor Alemanno, is likely to be wasted if we don't remedy this deterioration that has dragged on for decades. It's necessary to clarify the concept of value, that cannot be identified only with financial income, but it means to plan and restore dignity to places." The condition of the square adds to the list of complaints: "...
There are restraining orders requiring compliance with the dignity of the monuments, but the municipality has always disregarded the warnings of the Superintendent - says former superintendent Adriano La Regina, now a consultant to the City Hall. "Now in front of the Colosseum there's everything, including street vendors and stalls. The deterioration of the square is a problem that some do not want to solve, also because street vendors are powerful lobby, which is well represented in the City Council."
February 2012 - RESTORATION WORKS AND CONTROVERSY #3 - The relevant authority declared that the bidding procedure was regular. About 160 companies are qualified for this kind of works and hope to get a slice of the cake.
1 December 2011 - RESTORATION WORKS AND CONTROVERSY #2 - ARI (the association of Italian Restorers ) has sent an open letter to the newly appointed Minister of Heritage, Lorenzo Ornaghi, asking to stop the bidding procedure for the restoration of the Colosseum, in order to avoid irreparable damages to the Colosseum. ARI maintains that the Special Commissioner Roberto Cecchi has interpreted the law so that the call for tenders of Aug. 8th 2011 was destined in fact to building companies and not to companies specialised in restoration of monuments. Moreover, the restoration of the monument has been the subject of a "saggio esecutivo" by the Istituto Centrale del Restauro that clearly showed what and how to do on the Colosseum. In conclusion, ARI believes that the Colosseum will receive more damages than benefits by the Tod's Group operation.
19 November 2011 - RESTORATION WORKS AND CONTROVERSY
Under Secretary Francesco Giro (now ex Under Secretary after the fall of the Berlusconi government) announced that the restoration works for the Colosseum will start between May and June 2012. The delay is due to the "newness" of the sponsorship (by the shoe company Tod's Group - see below).
In the meantime, Codacons, a consumer association, has appealed the administrative tribunal against the entrusting of the works to the Group, as they maintain that the sponsorship infringes the bidding law. The bids are actually two: one of 8.7 million Euro regarding the restoration of the facade and a new barrier in the ground floor arches and another - of about 4.6 million Euro - for the construction of a "centro servizi" (service centre) between the Colosseum and via Celio Vibenna.
Codacons claims that the Special Commissioner Roberto Cecchi went beyond his powers when he signed the agreement with Tod's, that the call for tenders - indefinite and vague - allowed for the entrusting the works directly to the Tod's Group, despite a first negative evaluation of their proposal.
Moreover UIL, a Trade Union, had also appealed the Rome Tribunal through its National Cultural Heritage "Coordinamento", for basically the same reasons, adding also that 25 million Euro for the exploitation of the Colosseum image is a gift to Tod's, since "... any economist would evaluate the agreement over 200 million Euro, considering the exclusive rights and the duration of over 15 years with a communication plan ... saleable all over the world." UIL informs that recently Volkswagen asked our Cultural Heritage Ministry for permission to use the Colosseum for advertising, and were ready to fork out between 500.000 and 1.500.000 Euro (proposal that could not be accepted because of the 21 January agreement). Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno declared that the bidding procedure was regular and that the Tribunal will confirm its lawfulness.
January 2011 - Sponsorship for restoration works!!
Tod's Group is sponsoring major works of the Colosseum. The head of Tod's shoe company, Diego Della Valle, signed on Jan. 2011 an agreement with the authorities committing 25 million Euro to restore the monument. In exchange the Association "Amici del Colosseo", created by the sponsor, will get exclusive rights to use the image of the monument for advertisement for 15 years and will build a service centre for advertising. Here is the text of the agreement (in Italian).
March 2003 - Paul McCartney at the Colosseum - there have been two concerts: the first one on the 10th inside the monument, for about 400 people paying about 500-100 Euros a ticket (money is destined to the Stop Land Mines charity) and the following night another great one outside, in front of 500.000 people. We were there. Daniele went at 9 in the morning to occupy a place near the stage. We - older fans - went much later and enjoyed the show from the big screens along Via dei Fori Imperiali. It was unforgettable! The light show on the Colosseum was amazing! Thank you Paul ! You never stop giving us emotions !
Sept 2002 - The municipality of Rome shall issue a license of Gladiator. click here
Sept. 2001 - An article on Newsweek International (the pictures are mine): Rebuilding The Colosseum - Renovations at Romes mightiest monument are opening up sights that were hidden for centuries - By Barbie Nadeau - NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL
May 2001 - Nero's lake reappears after a storm
March 2001 - The Colosseum is the real wonder of the world, at least according to the Italians who have voted in an internet poll about the new 7 wonders (if you want to vote go to http://www.new7wonders.com ). The initiative was promoted by the magazine Focus and the Stargate TV program, on Italian TV Tele Monte Carlo. The Colosseum is 4th in the international score, after the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Chichén Itzà Pyramid.
The Italian votes went to:
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Great Wall of China
Palazzo Ducale in Venice
Moai sculptures in Easter Island
(From the magazine Focus - March 2001)