Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rome’s Colosseum restoration sparks inquiries into contract



Italy's most visited monument, the Roman Colosseum, is suffering from "about 3,000 lesions", a government minister said last year. Sometimes, bits fall off, as did a chunk dislodged by a pigeon on Christmas Eve.

This article titled "Rome's Colosseum restoration sparks inquiries into contract" was written by John Hooper in Rome, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 11th January 2012 17.41 UTC

But the chances of the aged patient receiving emergency surgery receded on Wednesday when it emerged that Rome prosecutors and the Italian audit court had each launched inquiries into the award of a contract for the funding of restoration. In January 2011, the luxury shoe firm Tod's announced it had struck a deal under which it would put up €25m (£21m) for the cleaning and strengthening of the arena where gladiators once grappled with wild animals – and each other.

Tod's obtained the right to use the image of the Colosseum until two years after completion of the work. But the company's founder, Diego Della Valle, promised not to exploit his sponsorship for commercial purposes, saying he was happy just to give something back to his country.

The agreement has nevertheless been a subject of controversy ever since. And, on Monday, Italy's competition authority was reported to have condemned the procedures used.

According to a consumer group that lodged the original complaint with the authority, an inquiry found that Tod's should have been made to organise, and not just fund, the project; that it had been granted sponsorship rights for too long; and that rival bidders had not been given enough time to top its offer.

But the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, warned: "If, with €25m of private cash available, we don't get work under way now, we cannot then complain if parts of the Colosseum collapse."