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Italy: Colosseum work pits restorers against building firms

last update: December 01, 13:05

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Rome, 1 Dec. (AKI) - The artisans that restore Italy's vast art and archeological sites say they are excluded from the project to give the Roman Colosseum a 25 million-euro face-lift and called on the government to stop all work or risk causing "irreparable damage'' to the 2,000 year old amphitheatre.

According to the Rome-based Restorers Association of Italy trade group, a government official charged with overseeing work on Rome's archeological sites two years ago changed contract bidding rules largely squeezing out art and archeology restoration firms in favour of large building contracting companies with far less knowledge on repairing the country's fragile historical heritage. .

In an open letter to Italy's new culture minister Lorenzo Oraghi published Thursday, the restorers group called on him to stop the bidding or "to avoid irreparable damage to the Italy's most celebrated monument with consequences of causing damage to Italy's image."

Luxury Italian shoe company Tod's is flipping the bill to pay for the work. that will include 5 million euros worth of scrubbing away the facade blackened by smog. In return for the funds, Tod's secured advertising rights at the Colosseum which attracts millions of visitors every year.

The government expected work to be completed by 2012 but is now expected to last 24 to 36 months., according to the La Repubblica newspaper. The work is slated to start by the end of December.

The need to restore Italy's most recognizable monument made headlines in May when pieces of mortar and lime fell from the walls.

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