Italian Minister of Heritage, Cultural Activity and Tourism Dario Franceschini announced yesterday that the country was investing €18.5 million ($20 million) to restore the floors of the Colosseum, the massive Roman amphitheater that serves as a historical centerpiece of the Italian capital. Originally built in 72-80 AD by the Emperor Vespasian, the old stadium has certainly seen better days. According to Spaces, Franceschini plans to modernize the floors of the huge stadium, previously wooden-and-sand platforms that were once the site of gladiator battles but were removed in the 19th century, so it can be used as a venue for cultural events. Other have said he also plans to "reenact Roman spectacles" -- bread and circuses for everyone!
The overdue update is part of a larger plan to restore numerous heritage sites around Italy, including the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The public investment in heritage sites joins recent preservation efforts funded by the private sector, including a €25 million ($27 million) renovation of other aspects of the Colosseum, including building a visitor's center and restoring the building's original white ochre facade, which is being funded by leather goods billionaire Diego Della Valle.