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When in Rome... find a new way to maintain the Colosseum

From John Defterios, CNN
May 1, 2014 -- Updated 0239 GMT (1039 HKT)
  • Italy is seeking new ways to pay for the upkeep of its most popular monuments
  • Political leaders have noted the country is struggling to manage its vast portfolio of historic landmarks
  • Partnerships with major Italian brands could be a way to maintain the likes of the Colosseum in Rome

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Rome (CNN) -- It is one of a handful global landmarks that needs no introduction.

The Colosseum in Rome is an Italian icon and a relic that dates back to the first century A.D. -- lions, gladiators, chariots and all.

But with so many historic landmarks to care for -- like the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Leaning Tower of Pisa -- Italy is beginning to struggle to manage its vast portfolio alone.

This is a fact now readily acknowledged by the country's political hierarchy, with new methods to pay for the upkeep of these magnificent structures being sought.

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"To me, this belongs to the entire mankind," Rome mayor Ignazio Marino told CNN as he looked out over the Italian capital from a balcony at City Hall.

"We have to share projects and ideas but we have to the share responsibility to maintain these for the generations to come," he added.

The Colosseum brings in nearly $50 million every year but much of this money now goes to pay for the upkeep of less visited treasures across the city.

Problems regarding funding started during the global financial crisis a little over five years ago.

In 2014 alone, the city of Rome ran a deficit of over $1 billion dollars and required a federal decree to bail it out.

These budgetary issues are complicated further by social and professional movements pressuring their representatives elected representatives on a number of issues such as pay and public services.

On the sprightly spring day that CNN visited the Eternal City, junior doctors were on the streets seeking a pay hike.

There are some, however, who say that if there is any hope of bringing back the days of "La Dolce Vita," Italy needs to bundle its history with what the world sees as the Italian lifestyle.

It is here that the private sector has begun to play its part.

According to Diego Della Valle, owner of high end shoemaker, Tod's, the nation's biggest companies have a responsibility to maintain Italian monuments as they are all part of the same brand experience.

DDV, as he is known, is spending $34 million on a five year scrubbing of the travertine marble front of the Colosseum.

"The most important things is the tourist project ... (or) if you want we call it the Made in Italy project," Della Valle said.

Elsewhere, Bulgari is putting $2 million into the Spanish Steps while fashion house Fendi has offered up nearly $3 million for the equally famous Trevi Fountain.

Rome's mayor himself has even ventured to Saudi Arabia seeking patrons from the energy rich state.

It's a cap in hand call to action that the founders of this once mighty empire would have never considered.

While Rome wasn't built in a day, it may also take a little longer find the coin required to preserve its finest and most treasured monuments.

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