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Who says Rome is dead?

Experimental archaeologists recreate Roman history, to the delight of onlookers.

Last month, Rome’s Vice Mayor Mauro Cutrufo officially presented a 7 billion euro plan (about $9.4 billion) to launch modern tourism in the Eternal City. The Roman theme park was among the 23 projects presented.

“Disneyland Paris attracts 12.5 million visitors every year,” Cutrufo said. “We want to follow that path.”

While Cutrufo promises historical accuracy and entertainment, experimental archeology groups believe that formula will betray the true atmosphere of ancient Roman life.

Sergio Iacomoni, president of “Gruppo Storico Romano,” Rome’s largest experimental archeology club, said that the challenge for accuracy lies in the details. “You want Coke? There was no Coke in ancient Rome. Want a beer, you can’t find that either. That’s the whole point,” he said.

SPQR president Franchetti agreed. “In Rome, we have already vulgarized our culture by allowing vendors to sell cheap gadgets by our monuments,” he said. “All we need is a Disneyland-like theme park on ancient Rome to complete the picture.”

Iacomoni, whose Roman alter ego is Emperor Nero, said that without a fully participatory and strictly realistic experience, the amusement park project could fail. “People know fiction all too well and they don’t need another Hollywood-style rendition of Rome,” Iacomoni said.

While Rome is may become a more modern tourist destination under Cutrufo's initiative, the Roman theme park remains just an idea. The city hasn’t yet found funding for the project. At a recent conference, management from Disneyland Paris said that they would not invest.

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