Saving the Colosseum

This article, written by Barbie Latza Nadeau, appears on The Daily Beast.

Live from the Colosseum in Rome! Inside a Party to Save Italy’s Treasures

The man who spent a small fortune to save the ancient arena from ruin celebrated with a glitzy gala held inside.

Sitting on a gilded, red velvet chair inside the ancient Roman Colosseum on a glorious July evening listening to a soprano sing O soave fanciulla from La Bohème, two things come to mind. The first, of course, is that this sure beats the usual Friday night routine (no offense, Netflix). The second is a haunting and somewhat horrifying reflection. Did the gladiators and slaves who fought in this very spot more than 2,000 years ago notice how the setting sun casts dancing shadows as it dips below amphitheater’s arched windows, or were too focused on the carnage of the bloody battles they were embroiled in? It is impossible to be in such a place and not think of its history. Sure, there are no longer bloodstains on the ancient travertine, but there are definitely ancient spirits—gladiator ghosts perhaps—everywhere.

The Roman Colosseum, or Flavian Amphitheater as it is officially known, is perhaps the most recognizable of all the remnants of the Roman Empire’s former glory. It was inaugurated in 80 A.D. as a gift by the Emperor Vespasian to the people of Rome, and has survived centuries of battles, of pillaging and, more recently, of pollution. It has been covered with garbage, excavated, built upon, dug under and trampled by millions of tourists each year. It has almost crumbled countless times, its wrinkles and fissures a true testament to the effects of time. Read more at The Daily Beast…

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