Italy's culture minister gives the green light for cultural events once again being held within the historic arena
Two millennia after sword-wielding gladiators fought to the death on the blood-soaked sands of the Colosseum, Italy's culture minister has given the green light to cultural events once again being held within the arena.
Dario Franceschini has thrown his weight behind a proposal to rebuild the wooden floor that once covered the arena and provided the setting for wild animal hunts and gladiatorial combat.
Currently only a small portion of the arena is covered by wooden boards, with the rest exposed to the elements - visitors are able to peer into the labyrinth of narrow tunnels and cramped stone cells that once housed caged animals and gladiators before they emerged into the arena via a network of lifts operated by slaves.
There are no plans to recreate mock gladiatorial battles or fights with lions, leopards and bears.
The minister said that only concerts and other cultural events would be held, insisting that ancient Rome's monuments should not be turned into a cultural Disneyland.
Occasional concerts are held inside the Colosseum but the rebuilding of the arena's wooden flooring would allow more frequent events.
"I'm convinced that with the intelligent reconstruction of the arena in the Colosseum, the monument that is a symbol of Italy could become even more attractive to tourism," Mr Franceschini said at a press conference in Rome on Friday.
He knocked down previous suggestions that football matches could be held in the ancient arena.