- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ROME (AP) - Italy’s culture ministry is investigating reports that bits of rock have fallen from the Colosseum.

Witnesses reported seeing the fallen masonry Sunday. Italian news agency ANSA reported another bit fell Tuesday, but Colosseum director Rossella Rea denied it and blamed the false report on a “psychosis” that occurs every so often that Rome’s iconic stadium is crumbling.

Italian environmental group Legambiente has frequently raised the alarm about the precarious state of the Colosseum, charging that auto exhaust fumes and vibrations from vehicles and a nearby subway are damaging the Colosseum’s travertine exterior and brick and tufa interior.

A euro25 million ($33 million) restoration, paid for by Diego Della Valle, founder of shoemaker Tod’s, is set to begin in March.