Tuesday, September 18

Italy's Fountains: Spilling out money

Rome’s former Mayor Veltroni announced during his watch a few years back that the City of the Future will be more Green. This is exciting news. In fact, just two years prior, Rome was named the “Most Green City” in Europe. And it deserves it. There are so many parks and public spaces, people don’t even realize it. Nearly every corner has a quiet place where the elderly go with their little grandchildren, usually filled with sculptures, ponds, playgrounds and even dog fountains now and again. It's wonderful.
But, I guess with all this greenery, the Greens have sort of sat back and relaxed. More precisely, those politicians representing the Green Party. All I know is that they’ve been sitting pretty quietly on fairly major ‘green’ issues which affect us Romans (or rather, yours truly in specific).

But, where were the ‘greens’ when the greenery had to go? I didn’t hear a word when they cut down dead or dying trees, leaving 2 ft. high stumps in their wake, never to be replaced. Or, when they brought down all of the amazing trees lining one of the most beautiful streets of Rome, just off the Via Veneto. Walking down that street made you feel like you were in Paris. And maybe that’s why they had to go. They cited, ‘Security Reasons’. From my point of view, it looked more like they needed to make way for parking spots and a bus lane rather than snipers hiding out in trees. Nonetheless, seeing that the U.S. Embassy is right nearby, well, I knew one way or another the Americans would be blamed for this disaster too.

It goes unreported, but those wonderful water fountains with the long snouts (charmingly called the ‘nasoni’) spout water day and night. And while my dog is most certainly grateful to receive some cold clean water in his lifetime, the amount of money going literally down the drain is incomprehensible. What’s even more unbelievable is the fact that all it would take to stop the flow is a little spout with a turning mechanism. To think of the amount of bribes one could garnish from fitting these sprouts across the city, well, it’s all the more unthinkable that it hasn’t happened yet.

What makes this situation even more preposterous is that Italy is consistently levied steep fines from the European Union precisely for their --errr turning up their noses at the problem. The water problem, cited repeatedly in the documents coming out of Brussels, costs the taxpayers billions. And yet, no greens pipe up (pun very much intended) on the issue.

They say that our next wars will be over water. One of these days, I’ll bet we’ll see an astute Italian entrepreneur team up with the Saudis and just start bottling and shipping the free (and exceptionally clean) water coming out of the nasoni before that happens. Maybe they’ll even garner the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

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