The Colosseum in Rome is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. Estimates put the number of visitors each year at around six million. Unfortunately, two thousand years of wear and tear have done a number on the structure, and more recently, pollution has blackened portions of the outside. It’s in great need of a massive repair project. In future years, that refurbish will reportedly be supported by Italian billionaire Diego Della Valle, but for the time being, Rome’s mayor Ignazzio Marino has decided to take a different approach.

According to Fox News, all cars, trucks and private vehicles have been banned from using the road that passes directly by the Colosseum. Aside from city owned vehicles like busses, no traffic will be allowed, which, in theory, should help with the pollution problem. Eventually, the mayor would like all vehicles to be diverted away, but at this point, that’s apparently not feasible.

The line between preserving history and making sure to not inhibit or inconvenience modern technology is often very fluid. It sounds like a no brainer not to let cars get too close to the Colosseum, but if it leads to more traffic congestion and delays, the cost of that has to be weighed. The structure might increase tourism, but the majority of Italy’s economy still relies on people commuting to more modern workplaces. Besides, there are other Italian treasures that could benefit from less pollution too; so, a decision needs to be made as far as where the line should be drawn.

A few decades ago, the Colosseum was just one of many well-trafficked treasures in Europe, but thanks to the release of Gladiator, its popularity grew immensely. Some claim as many as six times the number of tourists now walk through it every year, most of which leave very satisfied and eager to tell their friends to take a look at one of the great engineering feats of the Roman empire. Obviously, the more the outside is caked with disgusting black pollution and the less the structure is kept up, the more people will decide to take their dollars elsewhere.

Here’s to hoping the Italian government is able to achieve the right long-term balance between modern and historical. Finding the right solution won’t be easy. It will likely piss off plenty of motorists and/ or history professors, but some kind of compromise needs to be reached.

Until then, you can check out this scene from Gladiator below…

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