14 Gennaio 2019

Rome mayor makes a grab for Trevi coins

Coins lobbed by tourists into the Trevi Fountain, long used to help the destitute, are to be put instead towards helping to clean up Rome – a decision condemned by the Catholic Church (Tom Kington writes). ALAMY Virginia Raggi, the mayor, has laid claim to the 1.5 million a year that is thrown into the famed Baroque fountain, arguing that because it is the city’ s workers that remove the coins, the administration is entitled to keep the proceeds. The 28,000 recovered when the fountain is emptied and cleaned each week is usually handed over to the Catholic charity Caritas, which uses it to fund soup kitchens – but as the misfiring city government tries to tackle a plague of potholes and mountains of uncollected rubbish, Ms Raggi has spotted a much-needed revenue boost. Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, warned that the change “will mean the reduction or closing of many services for the poor in Rome”. Ms Raggi came in for further criticism over the weekend when a prominent churchman, Bishop Paolo Lojudice, drew unwelcome attention to the city’ s refuse crisis. “How is it possible a big city cannot resolve its rubbish problem? Is it really impossible ?” he told Vatican Radio. Manage ment issues and Visitors throw about 4,000 a day into Trevi Fountain for good luck. Left: Virginia Raggi chronic absenteeism at the rubbish service were laid bare last month when a fire at a key collection facility left a pall of foul-smelling smoke lingering over the Eternal City for days. The authorities may also need a new source of ready cash soon, when the consumer group Codacons launches a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the hundreds of Romans who have suffered injuries driving into Rome’ s potholes, which are the result of decades of shoddy road surfacing. However, after paying out about 13 million in individual settlements last year, the city appears to believe it has coughed up enough. Responding to news of the impending legal action, a city lawyer told a court that potholes were “a normal experience” and that it was up to Romans to “diligently avoid danger”. The city, he added, had so many roads the town hall could not be expected to look after them all.

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