Rome won’t be rebuilt in a day: the challenge of city centre restoration

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Rome won't be rebuilt in a day: the challenge of city centre restoration
The Colosseum restoration is being paid for the billionaire owner of a shoe company / Photo: Lorenzo Cicconi Massi

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Rome won't be rebuilt in a day: the challenge of city centre restoration
The Colosseum restoration is being paid for the billionaire owner of a shoe company / Photo: Lorenzo Cicconi Massi

The Italian capital has a logistical nightmare: juggling ambitious restoration projects at the Colosseum and the Porta Maggiore basilica with trying to run and update the city – and all without a mayor. Can it cope?

As the metal lift climbs up the side of Rome’s Colosseum, a remarkable view unfolds: the unmistakable dome of St Peter’s Basilica in the distance, interrupted by the Eternal City’s Roman Forum and countless churches.

Down below, in stark contrast to the historic skyline, endless choking traffic roars past the ancient amphitheatre. Scooter riders dodge potholes, while pedestrians lament the state of the metro and the lateness of the buses.

Claudio Parisi Presicce, the city’s superintendent for cultural heritage, admits that one of the city’s most important challenges is mobility. Rome currently has just two metro lines, grossly inadequate for a city of 3.7 million people. But for Presicce there is a further concern: digging underground puts the ancient city at risk.

“Until a few years ago, the ancient city wasn’t well integrated with the modern city,” he says. “Above all, it was as if one city existed below and another above; these cities didn’t create dialogue with one another.”

To further complicate matters, the city is currently without a mayor, following Ignazio Marino’s dramatic resignation in October over an expenses scandal and much grumbling over the state of municipal services such as rubbish collection and grass cutting. […]

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