Mercoledì, 17 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Council meets shopkeepers over pedestrian-Forum complaints

English
© ANSA

Rome, September 5 - Rome's transport and commerce
councillors meet local business associations on Thursday to
address shopkeeper complaints following the closure to private
vehicles of an stretch of road flanking the Colosseum and
running by the Imperial and Roman Forum ruins.
Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino last month launched the first
stage of pedestrianizing and transforming the Fascist-era
stretch of road from a downtown traffic artery to a traveller
and culture hub.
Only trams, emergency vehicles and taxis have been
permitted since the second weekend of August.
"A number (of businesses) have already closed. Others have
transferred, and others are on the verge of doing so. Turnover
has fallen 40-60% on this period last year," complained Giuseppe
Roscioli of the Confcommercio retail association.
"We have found that the businesses of the area adjacent to
the Forum are in great difficulty," said Valter Giammaria, the
president of the Rome branch of the Confesercenti business
association.
"If shopkeepers close, the area will become extremely
degraded: just traffic lanes," claimed Giammaria, adding that
the business associations want a say in how the road
transformation progresses.
"We are not categorically against semi-pedestrianization".
Visits to the Colosseum and other top sites of ancient Rome
rose by almost 13% following the partial road closure, which
coincided with the national Ferragosto holiday, compared with
the same time last year, according to statistics released by the
Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage.
It wasn't clear if the mayor's decision to close more of
the area around the Colosseum to automobile traffic, creating a
larger pedestrian space, made the difference or whether it was
unusually mild August temperatures or the lingering recession
forcing more Romans and Italians to spend their holidays closer
to home.
But the Rome mayor, who was elected in June, has said that
the road in question will eventually become the exclusive domain
of pedestrians, cyclists and government vehicles.
"Maybe a section will remain, perhaps for pedestrians and
bicycles, maybe a tram, maybe we'll keep maps of the Roman
Empire there. We'll wait and see what the final result is," said
the mayor in a recent interview with the Huffington Post.
The move has drawn loud complaints from shopkeepers and
businesses, but surveys say surrounding residents are 80% in
favor of the vehicle ban, which also aims to reduce smog in the
area that has created a thick layer of soot on the Colosseum's
exterior.
In addition to improving the quality of life for Romans,
Marino says the change will also make the 2,000-year-old
monument and the surrounding area more tourist-friendly.
"I think we can double the number of tourists who come.
We're shooting for over 20 million per year," Marino said.

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