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Rome's Colosseum arena floor should be restored - minister

Faithful are seen in front of the Colosseum before Pope Francis leads a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession during Good Friday celebrations in Rome April 18, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi/Files

ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s culture minister has backed a proposal to rebuild the floor of Rome’s Colosseum, allowing visitors to stand in the arena where gladiators once fought.

In ancient times, a wooden floor covered with sand was built on top of tunnels through which animals, fighters or performers were brought into the arena. For more than a century, this underground structure has been exposd.

Italian archaeologist Daniele Manacorda suggested in July that a floor should be put back in the Colosseum.

Not only would tourists appreciate it, but the amphitheatre could again be used to stage events, Manacorda wrote in the July issue of “Archeo” archaeological journal.

“I like (the idea) very much,” Culture Minister Darion Franceschini wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “All is needed is a bit of courage.”

The Colosseum is currently undergoing a privately funded restoration, one of several projects in Italy meant to save its cultural landmarks from decay as money from the government dwindles.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Angus MacSwan