Unicredit to help fund restoration of famed Roman amphitheater, the Arena of Verona

Italian bank Unicredit and its charitable foundation have signed a deal to restore Verona's Roman amphitheater, the Arena, for 14 million euros ($17.5 million).

The project will secure the open-air Arena, the world's third-largest Roman amphitheater, against infiltration from rain which has damaged the seating areas, stairs and modern infrastructure like the electrical system.

The deal, signed Wednesday, falls under a government initiative to encourage private donations to restore and support Italy's cultural patrimony, providing donors with a 65-percent tax credit. Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi said state funds alone are insufficient to undertake a restoration of this scale.

The Arena is one of Verona's biggest tourist attractions and the venue for its famed summer opera festival. Some 1.5 million people visit it each year.