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Rays of Sunlight on an Ecologically-challenged Rome

June 7, 2016

Nothing compares to Rome. Each day in the Roman life  brings experiences you would be lucky to encounter in a year elsewhere in the world, encounters with art, history, architecture, music, ideas. Extraordinary people, extraordinary places. In some places beauty is available only to the wealthy;  in Rome so much is free to those willing to open their eyes and explore.


But every silver lining has a cloud around it, and framing those extraordinary jewels Rome presents some of the most outrageous afflictions, out of place in any capital city, especially in the “developed” world.  It would be as tiresome to list them as it is annoying to have to report them to the authorities knowing that they will probably remain unresolved.

The situation has reached a turning point and Romans (including adopted ones like myself and many others) are rolling up their sleeves and working to fix what is broken. Some could examples were pointed out by Elisabetta Povoledo in this article in the New York Times last month.

There are many others, emerging from grassroots movements with focuses such as public space advocacy, transit equity, social justice, and environmental protection. From Urban Cyclists to Guerrilla Gardeners, Rome is teaming with smart organizations that know how to leverage digital media to obtain media visibility and get change done.

Miraculously, even the world of politics is catching up, launching programs for Rome which go beyond populist demagoguery to address tangible, simple challenges.

This weekend Romans voted for a successor to Mayor Ignazio Marino, who won by a landslide three years ago but was forced out of office after his work to fight corruption started to bear fruit. His own “democratic” party, (PD) met behind closed doors to force his resignation.

In the first round of elections this weekend a majority of voters chose to abandon the old political parties, especially the PD, and elect a young lawyer, Virginia Raggi, with no ties to traditional party politics.  Raggi’s platform addresses the specific problems faced by Rome and offers simple solutions, not unlike those that were being implemented by Marino when he stepped down.

The reason a Raggi government would be different is that she is not a pawn of the political system; they can’t remove her the way they did Marino.  She could enact change quickly and efficiently, starting with the simple application of existing laws, and removing public officials and employees of city controlled agencies (AMA and ATAC at the top) who neglect to carry out their obligations, a situation that has gone on far too long.

It’s too early to announce change; an old-style PD government might still be elected. If this happened, it would be a clear sign that most Romans are happy with the system as it is. And non-Romans will continue to see Rome as a cool place for a short visit, not to stay too long and certainly not a place in which to invest.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2016 13:34

    As an ex-pat living in Rome for over four years now, I find myself increasingly asking (myself) why they do not enforce their own laws. Paris is huge, but people park where they should and don’t park where they should not. Ditto London. Why, then, cannot I not walk around Rome without problems from parked cars and motorini? Double-parking is at an insane level, vastly increased over 4 years as no one gives a fig. Then there’s the bus irregularities, AMA dysfunction, gaping holes in the sidewalks, and so on.

    The charm I found as a visitor and for the first couple of years is now tarnished, especially as I visit places that work like Paris, London, Switzerland, Milano, Firenze, and even Venezia. Here’s hoping Raggi can get something done.

    I do not understand why you think “they” cannot remove her like they did Marino.


    • June 8, 2016 16:43

      Thanks for the feedback. Marino was removed by the PD; Raggi wouldn’t be under their control and the 5 Stelle doesn’t manipulate it’s members in this way (though they would step in if she stepped out of line).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. June 8, 2016 13:45

    Dear Tom,
    I understand your vision, but you seems to ignore that Roberto Giachetti is not properly a member of the “Old style” PD. He has his own past (for example in the Partito Radicale) and could be an “internal” solution.
    ciao Marco


    • June 8, 2016 16:41

      His list includes several of the people who stepped down to eliminate Marino, and his staff includes
      Sabella who famously parked his SUV on the sidewalk at the Campidoglio. The only thing I personally appreciate in Giachetti is that he answered an email I sent a few months back, something few politicians are capable of doing. If he should win, I’ll certainly support him all the way.


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