London, Aug 15 : In a bid to attract tourists, the Roman authorities have come up with a scheme to bring back the crowds by having a Disneyland-style theme park depicting life in ancient Rome, complete with gladiators and Julius Caesar
This summer the number of tourists in Rome came down by five per cent due to the credit crunch and the strong Euro.
It might be thought that Rome already has enough genuine marvels to offer, from the Colosseum, the Forum and the Pantheon to St Peter's and countless Renaissance palaces and Baroque churches.
But Nazzereno Sacchi, the head of the Roman traders' association, said that 2008 was proving a "black year" for tourism, and that thousands of waiters, cooks and hotel staff were having to be laid off.
In response, the new right-of-centre Rome administration plans to build the Ancient Rome theme park on a site of 400-500 hectares, yet to be chosen.
Mauro Cutrufo, the deputy mayor, said: "Our model is EuroDisney in Paris." The aim was to have the "family friendly entertainment park" open for customers within three to four years, The Times quoted him, as saying.
Instead of Pirates of the Caribbean, visitors would be offered rides through a replica of the Colosseum, where they could watch gladiators fighting each other or wild animals, as the Emperor looked on.
The park would offer attractions based on life both in republican Rome, ending with the murder of Julius Caesar and civil war, and the power and might of the Roman Empire.