The weather in Rome was lovely, but the string of beautiful late summer days finally broke this morning. No more alternating blue skies, multi-hued wild cotton flocks of sheep-like clouds piling up and blowing by with drenching showers followed by rainbows two and three deep. It’s been a glorious season, but today looks like the city’s glum administrative outlook has finally seeped into the environment.
The Eternal City’s somehow uninspiring at present. So I’ve chosen a few pictures of early August in Puglia, where sun and food and history blended more simply yet often more harmoniously than here.
The point is, Rome suffers from age-old ills, and is in particularly dire financial straits. With a new municipal council and Mayor-lady who have been in deer-in-the-headlights frozen mode ever since being voted in back in June. “No” is their only flavor of the day to date, “no” to our candidacy for the 2024 Summer Olympics, so “no” for the 2023 Rugby World Cup too. Events that could have provided opportunities to build a much needed campus for university students (an Olympic village for athletes in its first incarnation) and who knows, really drastic anti-traffic measures and changes that could have ushered in a new age of decent quality of life with few cars/more buses in this perennially gridlocked city.
Now we’ll never know.
Instead of the Olympics which are anathema to the current politicos, we were triumphantly told we would enjoy a taste of “international culture in keeping with the traditions of this Great City” (quote), as we’ll be hosting four UEFA Euro 2020 football (=soccer) matches. I’m a football fan myself, but would gladly pass. We’ve been invaded a great many times by hordes of drunken foreign fans, and some get their kicks rampaging through the historical center, throwing bottles at shop windows and savaging invaluable works of ancient architecture. So now shops in the center tend to lock down their shutters pre-emptively when it’s international football time. So much for international culture. The last degrading invasion was in February of last year. Google to believe: it was indeed beyond belief. Ms Mayor probably isn’t aware of it, as she lives in the periferia and has been quoted as saying she doesn’t read the papers much.
Our garbage emergency has reached apocalyptical levels because plants are either non-existent or on hold because of mafia-type investigations. Though Romans aren’t enthusiastic recyclers, just for organic garbage, the figure for the city is some 200 thousand tons produced each year. Of these, we send off 170 thousand tons to be composted elsewhere. Most of it is sent to the upper northeastern corner of Italy, very near the border with Austria. Total yearly bill: € 20 million. No apparent progress nor policy to deal with the stalled situation, though it’s not clear if it’s because of the ongoing corruption case against their newly appointed garbage councilwoman, or because nobody’s been willing so far to take up the vacant CEO post of the garbage company, or just because the amateurs currently in charge of our city are simply too clueless to understand the issues. The latter’s quite possible, to quote one of them “We’re here to learn.” Learn, as in school? interns?
Besides, this new party is supposed to be green-friendly, and should be moving aggressively to apply laws passed by the previous much decried administration, to ban the most polluting vehicles from the city limits as of November 1. As Italians aren’t big on car-pooling, and too avoid ramping up to an even higher level of traffic and/or social mayhem, they’ll have to rush through a complex and comprehensive plan cum effective communication, to ensure that some 140.000 suddenly carless people can get to their jobs anyway. So far, if there’s any kind of plan, it’s a well-kept secret.
So today’s finally autumnal grey and glum, it’s cold and rainy. The skies seem to have caught up with the general mood of the city.
A good time to time-travel back to Puglia…
Source for Rome garbage situation: la Repubblica Oct. 9 2016 (Cecilia Gentile)
Photos of Puglia © 14thcountry.com