Few tourists -- but no gladiators -- at Rome's Colosseum

  • Tuesday 02, June 2020 10:02 AM
  • Few tourists -- but no gladiators -- at Rome's Colosseum
Sharjah24 – AFP: Rome's famed Colosseum reopened Monday after a three-month coronavirus lockdown but only a few hundred people were expected at Italy's top tourism site.
The massive amphitheatre, which witnessed savage fights and the gory deaths of unlucky gladiators and wild animals centuries ago, was eerily silent as the first tourists passed through its gates with new health protocols in place.

Officials said they expected only 300 people -- a far cry from the thousands of selfie-taking tourists who jam-pack the stadium on a normal basis.

Also visibly absent were the modern-day gladiators usually parading outside, waving their plastic swords as they vie for tips for photographs.

Workers took advantage of the lack of crowds to patch up mortar, and a solitary cat was seen roaming on the main deck.

Last year, an average of 20,000 tourists visited the Colosseum daily on a combined ticket with the Imperial Forum -- the site of ancient Rome's government and religious temples -- and the Palatine Hill, where the city's elite built their villas, thrown in.

Seventy percent of those tourists came from abroad.

On Wednesday, visitors from within the European Union will be allowed to travel for the first time to Italy, but borders remain closed to tourists from further afield.

Italy's tourism sector is vital for the economy, accounting for about 13 percent of revenues. Museums were allowed by law to open on May 18, but many still remain closed as they await a greater influx of tourists.

Famous sites throughout Italy such as the ruins of Pompeii and Pisa's leaning tower have reopened in recent days.

On Tuesday, Florence's Uffizi Gallery and its Accademia, housing Michaelangelo's David, are set to welcome visitors once again.