Each year, someone posts the listing of the state of the environment of Italy’s top 100 cities. Mostly smog and small particles. Not surprisingly, the big metropolises are more polluted then say, lovely Belluno. Last on the list? Ragusa in Sicily. Now, Sicily is not known for its industry, so I was pretty surprised by this, thinking it was due to exploding Mount Etna. I’ve since learnt that it’s due to a huge petro-chemical plant there. Wow. That should be a wake-up call. And trapped Florence which everyone considers the most polluted of all, comes in under Rome and Milan.
In short, it’s all those vehicles. Italy, after all, has the greatest number of cars pro capita in Europe. They have one car for every driver. And, considering the exorbitant costs of keeping, driving, and maintaining them here, not to mention that most of the roads people actually drive on were built for donkey carts, well, you’d think there’d be a deterrent somewhere. Not here.
But, I don’t get bothered by the smog, except that it blocks a once-terrific view of the mountains around Milan. What irks me, on the other hand, are the ludicrous measures that City officials, across the entire boot, put into action in an attempt at ‘containing’ the smog. Talk about spitting in the wind. Their measures actually serve to increase the very smog they were trying to get rid of.
It goes like this:
From Monday to Friday, more cars than any city can handle clog the roads as people try to get from here to there. We are constantly admonished to take public transport: average wait, over 20 minutes (the time it takes to get to the center of Rome by car), while the other night, past midnight, I waited a full 40 mins., finally flagging down a cab for my 6 min ride home. So we drive.
On the weekends, (Friday evenings, to be precise) and holidays, cities literally empty out. Off to the beach, their mountain retreats, the countryside. In Milan, I would go rollerblading down the fantastically empty streets.
So, what do our omniscient city officials do? They block all autos on Sundays. All 11 of them.
Not allowed in the City until after 8pm (or you are met with heavy traffic fines, with police out in force all day long, with overtime pay, to boot), what do you suppose takes place?
Instead of letting us trickle back home to mamma, in time to enjoy a banquet that is Sunday pranzo, we get miles and miles of cars, idling in traffic at 7:45pm, crawling back to their homes, as if it was top of the morning rush hour.
This exercise in futility is almost as senseless as taking shoes off at airports. Talk about what happens when decisions are made by committee.