March 27 - President Obama visits Rome's ancient Colosseum in the latest stop on his European tour, calling the ancient Italian landmark ''remarkable, unbelievable.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Barack Obama visited Rome's ancient Colosseum on Thursday (March 27) in the latest stop on his European tour, calling the ancient Italian landmark "remarkable, unbelievable." Obama spent over an hour walking around the 2,000-year old arena during sunset, accompanied by a specialist from the Italian heritage ministry. The ancient arena was where gladiators fought bloody battles for the entertainment of crowds but it would have looked far different from the stone ring that has become one of the symbols of Rome. Known in Roman times as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum has suffered heavily in two millennia, not least from pollution from a road ringing the monument just steps away. The exterior of the building visited by millions of tourists each year was originally covered in gleaming white marble that was removed over the centuries to be used elsewhere. The monument is currently undergoing its first comprehensive restoration in 73 years, a 25 million euro ($US33.39 million dollar) project to clean the entire building by 2015. After the restoration, some 25 percent more of the Colosseum will be open to visitors, particularly the underground network of tunnels, storerooms and cages.