There are some huge projects underway in Rome to unveil ancient sites never before seen and which have been recently discovered. The thought of seeing these never before seen treasures (except when they existed in their heyday) is SO exciting! Can you imagine seeing frescoes and mosaics dating back thousands of years? According to Rome’s mayor, Ignazio Marino, there are over 100,000 archaeological treasures in “storage” and hundreds of sites yet to be excavated!
Mayor Marino visited the Italian Consulate in San Francisco recently and showed the audience present several until-now unseen ancient Roman archaeological treasures. One of these hidden wonders was the Cryptoporticus beneath Trajan’s Baths. This buried gallery, which predates the baths, is covered in frescoes that depict a walled port city of the ancient world. Whether the city is real or just a project design, is up for discussion and being studied, I’m sure! Definitely an archaeologist’s dream!
Another hidden gem are the gladiator barracks next to the Colosseum where modern day visitors can walk the same steps taken by those brave men so long ago. The mayor has already done much in Rome to bring back the layout of Ancient Rome (like banning car traffic from the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum), but he wants to do more to return the archaeological fabric to the Eternal City. Among these are to remodel the Via dei Fori Imperiali (constructed by Mussolini in the 1930″s and which divides the Roman Forum from the Forum of Augustus) and the ancient Via Alessandrina. These two renovations would help to make the area around the Forum the largest archaeological park in the world!
Lastly presented, but definitely not the last of the excavations, is the retrofitting of the largest round tomb in the world – the Mausoleum of Augustus. The vision would be to allow visitors to be able to walk into this giant structure to view it’s massive construction and marbled beauty.
“We must not only work so next generations can see what we see today, but also so they can see what we cannot see today.”
A few years ago, I wrote a post on the search for someone to hand over 25 million Euros for the restoration of the famous Colosseum in Rome. Luckily someone has come forward with the capital: Diego della Valle, CEO of Tod’s, the luxury shoe manufacturer.
Della Valle is a native Italian with lots of pride for his homeland. “I’m someone who has had enormous luck in life and when I could give back, I did,” says Della Valle. “This is a monument that not only belongs to Italy’s patrimony but the entire world.” The project began last December and will take about 5 years to complete. So far, they have begun by removing the soot caused by dust and smog almost 2000 years old. The travertine stone has been blasted with water at low pressure to reveal the true ochre and red colors of the original Roman stone. So far, they have cleaned 14 of the 80 or so pillars. Once this first phase is done, they will continue by reattaching broken fragments and fortifying them with mortar. The iron bars that dot the surface will be repaired and the metal rails will be replaced with newly forged iron gates. A tourist center and café will be built underground in front of the Colosseum’s entrance and lastly, in the Colosseum’s cellar, where roaring animals and sword-wielding gladiators were once detained, the brick walls will be restored.
The bidding for the project began in 2010 and the two final contenders were Tod’s and Ryanair! It’s a good thing that Ryanair did not win the bid because it intended to wrap the monument in advertising banners! Now that would have been a sight for sore eyes!
Surprisingly enough, this seemingly generous donation elicited a huge controversy headed by the Italian consumer protection organization, Codacons because they disagreed with Tod’s having use of the Colosseum for preapproved corporate events. Seems to me that if someone is being generous enough to hand over 25 million Euros they should be allowed a little bit of appreciation – a few private corporate events doesn’t seem like much to ask for! Much better than advertising banners everywhere! This stupid controversy delayed the project for over 2 years, with all those millions just sitting unused, until the courts dismissed the case due to a technicality. Della Valle wasn’t phased by this, but he did state “…I do believe that something as simple as, ‘I want to give you money, let’s spend it’ shouldn’t be so difficult. My idea was always to use this [donation] as a restart. The country is having problems right now. But there is a lot of will and desire to do things. All that’s needed is to show people that things can happen and how to do it. I see it as an obligation. Italians who have had success and luck in life should give back to their country.”
This philosophy has elicited a positive response from several other notable Italian companies: Fendi will be restoring the Trevi Fountain and Diesel will take on Venice’s Rialto Bridge. Thankfully, there are these very generous patrons who value the rich historical significance of these extraordinary masterpieces and are willing to come to their rescue.
A campaign is about to be launched in Italy!!! This is the chance of a lifetime (that is, if you can spare 25 million euros…) A sponsor is being sought who will foot the bill for the restoration of one of the world’s greatest treasures – Rome’s Colosseum! Many of Italy’s ancient treasures are in need of restoration, and the Italian government has stated that it will donate 1 million euro for these projects. Unfortunately, this isn’t nearly enough to cover the costs of saving these priceless treasures. Therefore, the proposal was hatched at the Bocconi University to create this campaign, and it was approved by the various government authorities. The Minister of Cultural Treasures has stated that if this campaign is effective, it will pave the way for the restoration of countless other treasures, including Pompeii and the Roman Forum. Time to start saving my pennies….