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Despite chronically short of funds, Italian officials set Colosseum repair date for December
Technicians drop stones from the top of Rome's ancient Colosseum to evaluate possible risks to visitors, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. Colosseum director Rossella Rea said the test are being done to evaluate the eventual need of new safety measures in case of an accidental fall of rocks from the monument. She also said that the recent climate changes, with unusually heavy rains, snowfalls and extreme temperatures are causing micro deterioration that could ease the release of stone fragments. AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.

ROME (AP).- Italian cultural officials on Tuesday announced that the €25 million ($30 million) restoration of the Colosseum financed by the founder of luxury leather good maker Tod's will begin in December.

Officials said the work is expected to take 2 1/2 years, during which time the monument will remain open to tourists. The restoration, which also aims to make more of the monument accessible, will recover a wide swath of the monument's basement that will open to the public beginning in 2015.

The ancient Roman arena has been blackened by pollution and rocked by vibrations from a nearby subway line and car traffic for years. Its stability, however, has been guaranteed by officials, despite concerns over a 40-centimeter inclination on its south side described by Italian media as the "leaning tower of Pisa effect."

Tod's Italian founder Diego Della Valle has urged fellow entrepreneurs to step up and help fix ailing Italian landmarks.

"Companies have a social responsibility that should be supported and carried out," Della Valle told a news conference. "It is also a signal for investors that it is right to invest in this country."

Italy is chronically short of funds to maintain and protect its artistic and archaeological heritage.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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