Rome: Animals are once again the winners as the Palatine Hill closes to visitors.
Wild animals and birds have welcomed the closure of Parco Colosseo, the archaeological park comprising the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Domus Aurea.
With Italy’s museums and cultural sites closed due to the latest covid-19 restrictions, the Parco Colosseo animals have been enjoying the peace and quiet in their visitor-free haven.
The current closure of the archaeological site is in place until at least 3 December, and follows the extended national lockdown during the spring.
In between the autumn and spring closures, the resident animals and birds saw a trickle of visitors, far removed from the usual hordes of tourists, in what has been a very quiet year on the Palatine Hill.
Aside from the gardeners, one of the few people who sees the animals in this new-found peace is the Parco Colosseo director, Alfonsina Russo, who has been busy documenting the creatures as they potter undisturbed among the imperial Roman ruins.
The park is home to rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs and cats as well as mallard ducks, parakeets, pheasants, kestrels, woodpeckers and the robin, a protected species in Italy where sadly it faces extinction, says Russo.
Parco Colosseo also has its own “mascot,” a huge black rabbit that “has been living peacefully in the park for several years,” Russo told Rome daily newspaper Il Messaggero – “We know where his den is, we keep an eye on him and take care of him.”