Italian bank Unicredit and the nonprofit foundation CariVerona signed a deal Wednesday with Verona's mayor to restore the Arena at a cost of 14 million euros ($17.5 million).
The project aims to secure the open-air Arena, the third-largest Roman-era amphitheater to survive antiquity, against infiltration from rain, which has damaged the seating areas, and upgrade its stairs and infrastructure like the electrical system.
The deal falls under the government's Art Bonus initiative adopted this year that gives donors a 65 percent tax credit.
With state funding to culture shrinking amid Italy's recession, Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi praised the Art Bonus program, saying that public resources "would never be sufficient to maintain treasures like ours."
The Arena is one of Verona's biggest tourist attractions and the venue for its famed summer opera festival. Some 1.5 million people enter the monument each year.
Tosi said the restoration work is expected take three years.
The mayor has another, more controversial project, in his sights: adding a roof to the 1st -century building. Tosi said he was awaiting approval from the culture ministry to solicit proposals.
Source: The Associated Press [December 19, 2014]