Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saving the Colosseum

There is news out of Rome that the Culture Ministry is soliciting bids from private sponsors to raise funds to help preserve the Colosseum. There are reports that the iconic monument is not aging well and is in dire need of attention. This is a problem which continues to get worse (and increasingly dangerous) as the crush of tourists grows. When I visited the Colosseum for the very first time in July 1982, there were not a large number of visitors, and we could walk directly into the monument and wander at will, but when I visited the site in July 2007, there were mobs of people circling the amphitheater with very long lines snaking into one entrance after everyone passed through a ticket booth and a metal detector. Once inside, there was the unpleasant shuffle and bumping, with the attitude of get out out my way so that I can take a picture.

Now that there is an entrance fee of 15.50 euros, where does the money collected from visitors go? There is the hope and expectation that a great majority goes toward repair and preservation after the requisite administrative costs are satisfied.

Now that corporate sponsorship is being sought, which has a precedent in the successful cleaning and restoration of the Sistine Chapel by the Sony Corporation, there is also the hope and expectation that a significant infusion of funds can be secured to help preserve the Colosseum and other monuments throughout Rome. What we do not want to see, though, is the sponsor's logo spread across the facade of the structure. Imagine the sight -- "Ancient Arches Preserved by the Golden Arches: I'm Lovin' It!"

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