di Marcello Mento
Rome, July 8 - The long-awaited and much-debated restoration work on Rome's iconic Colosseum should begin within 10 days, Mayor Ignazio Marino said Monday. The 25-million-euro restoration project is also controversial because it will be privately financed by Diego Della Valle, owner of upscale shoe manufacturer Tod's. As Marino announced the start date for the Colosseum project, he also said that the city is close to beginning a project limiting private traffic around the Colosseum and the Imperial Forums. The first phase of a trial traffic control plan will begin July 30, he said. That will include tougher speed limits on the taxis and buses permitted in the area along the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Consumer group Codacons has a long-running legal complaint that the bidding process on the project lacked transparency and yielded too many concessions to Della Valle. The Roman superintendency of archeology already began work in January to create a safety zone around the ancient Roman arena to prevent injuries from possible falling materials. The Colosseum is close to 2,000 years old and feeling its age. Begun in 72 AD, the Colosseum, or Flavian Amphitheatre, is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering. It is 189 meters by 156 meters and covers an area of 24,000 square meters. Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, it was used for gladiatorial contests, mock sea battles, executions and re-enactments of mythological dramas.