Oddly Enough

Pirates of the Colosseum? Rome plans theme park

ROME (Reuters) - With the ruins of ancient Rome, the splendor of Vatican City and countless Renaissance art treasures, what does Italy’s capital lack to attract tourists?

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse along with various characters waves to the crowd on a giant birthday cake, as Euro Disney's theme park on the edge of Paris, celebrates its fifth anniversary April 12, 1997. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The answer, according to the mayor’s office, is a Disneyland-style theme park.

“The model is Euro-Disney in Paris,” said Deputy Mayor Mauro Cutrufo, announcing plans to build a vast ancient Rome theme park just outside the city which he says could be up and running within three to four years.

The park would provide family-friendly attractions to show visitors what life was like in the Rome of 2,000 years ago.

To be built on an as yet unspecified 400-500 hectare (1,000-1,200 acre) site, it would put a Roman twist on rides like Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean, in which visitors float on boats through a fantasy pirate world.

“You would relive scenes from the Colosseum, from ancient Rome, gladiators or maybe Julius Caesar or other things,” a Rome city official told Reuters.

A decision on whether to go ahead with the park could be made as early as next month after market research has shown potential demand for the plan.

But the park has already run into some opposition.

The government of the Lazio region, of which Rome is the capital, is run by the centre left and they are hostile to the proposal from the city council which is in the hands of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre right.

“I say no to Americanization,” said Claudio Mancini, a member of the Lazio council, who hopes the project will be stopped at the planning stage.

“There are planning considerations to weigh up because 500 hectares isn’t nothing,” he was quoted as saying in the Corriere della Sera daily.

Reporting by Robin Pomeroy, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Mary Gabriel