- The Telegraph
An estimated 100,000 people gathered for an all-night street party on Saturday to celebrate one of the first initiatives of newly-elected mayor, Ignazio Marino, who wants to cut pollution in the city . However, they were joined by Rome residents protesting about the closure of the route, immortalised by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’ s scooter ride in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, stating the move would lead to major traffic jams elsewhere in the Eternal City. “It’ s madness,” said one woman who could not return to her home near the Colosseum. Shopkeepers said the traffic diversion will be disastrous for business. “Some of us have had to write off our customers,” said one merchant with a clothing store behind the Colosseum. Mr Marino, a 58-year-old former transplant surgeon, was enthusiastic about his controversial decision as he addressed the crowd. Related Articles Colosseum restoration project gets go-ahead 31 Jul 2012 Colosseum in need of urgent support as one side sinks 15 inches 29 Jul 2012 Rome’ s Trevi Fountain ‘crumbling’ 11 Jun 2012 Rome mayor closes road to Colosseum 03 Aug 2013 “Behind us we have the Colosseum which until yesterday was reduced to a traffic roundabout, now it has not only been given back to Rome, but to the whole world,” Mr Marino said. The 2000-year-old monument has been blackened by pollution from the thousands of cars that pass around it every day and some experts believe it has also suffered some structural damage. Stefano Boeri, an architect and town planner, said the mayor’ s decision was an “historic step” and called it a “courageous experiment” that may be the first step to creating an even more ambitious archeological park in central Rome. From 5.30am Saturday the main road that runs through the Roman Forums and the Imperial Forums between the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia was closed to through traffic apart from buses, taxis and bicycles. The ancient sites include a series of overlapping public squares built by successive Roman emperors and are among the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. More than six million people visit the Colosseum every year. The controversial 25 million euro (20 million pound) restoration of the Colosseum is expected to begin soon after an Italian court rejected a challenge from consumer group Codacons to the proposal from billionaire businessman Diego Della Valle who heads the luxury Tod’ s shoe empire.
by josephine mckenna in rome