June 22, 2024

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Ailing Capital – Dirty and Bad: Rome Decays – Culture

Ailing Capital – Dirty and Bad: Rome Decays – Culture

Eternal city, eternal problems: Rome’s parks are polluted, its streets full of potholes. Even a new mayor can’t bring the city’s chronic problems under control. Angry citizens are now asking UNESCO for help.

Visitors to Rome notice negative things when walking through the old city: bleak green spaces and city parks, trash everywhere. Roads full of potholes and not potholes often cause accidents to two-wheelers. Aggressive sponges tear open garbage bags and scatter waste.

Also, there are restaurant and bar owners who keep tables and chairs illegally on the roadsides. Tourists, because it’s so hot, stroll half-naked through the city like a beach and illegally bathe in historic fountains.

The old townspeople are furious

In Italy there is a municipal law that provides some rules for “decoro”. The word means maintenance of public space. But such maintenance work is not done.

The anger of the old townspeople is bubbling more and more. Years later one was completed Incompetent city government under Mayor Virginia RaggiLeaving everything behind, Social Democrat Roberto Gualtieri became the new mayor in 2021.

He won the election with the slogan “All is well”. But the facts speak a different language.


Niente “decoro”: Overcrowded waste stations are not uncommon in Rome (pictured early June 2022).

Getty Images / Stefano Montesi

Appeal to UNESCO

After months of criticism on social media and more articles in newspapers about the dilapidated state of Italy’s capital, the anger of citizens, including Gualtieri, is now taking on a new dimension.

A group of residents of the historic center, including writers, architects, journalists, intellectuals, actresses and other citizens, and all associations for the protection of cultural assets have appealed to UNESCO. In it, they demanded that the Paris-based United Nations Organization for Culture take up Rome’s case.

I expect a public rebuke

Within days, several hundred signatures came together under the appeal. A signatories hope that UNESCO will publicly condemn the Romanian city administration.

Because the title “World Cultural Property” also implies compliance with the conditions, i.e. sustainable maintenance of UNESCO cultural property. According to the signatories of the appeal, this observation was completely absent in Rome.

UNESCO has two options for dealing with those responsible for neglected world cultural properties. First, the image damage complaint. Second, he can remove a site from his list of World Heritage Sites.

In 2013, it was already condemned by UNESCO in the case of the archaeological park of Pompeii. Things aren’t great there either. After complaints from Paris and UNESCO on-site inspections, the problems were quickly resolved. Does that also help with Rome? One may have doubts.

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