This May, Italy took a few steps forward on its march toward user-friendliness – something good for residents and tourists alike:
- FREE PARKING The City of Rome lost a lawsuit pursued by the consumer associations (a miracle in and of themselves) regarding the famous ‘strisce blu’; the blue lines defining pay parking all around town. Ignore the meters in bliss. They don’t want your money. (And, wonders of wonders, those millions of parking tickets will also be reimbursed! So, it really is just like in Monopoly).
It was seconds before the word on the street was that the City did not really care whether they lost the case or not: Turns out, the wife of the mayor’s rival, Rutelli, owns the concession and pockets 22M euro of the 27M earned annually.
Although something must be said for the increase in smog, traffic, and once again, the cost of undoing what's been done (they're busy taking down the parking meter signs as I type), no matter, we consumers win out on this one (but, enjoy it while it lasts)…
- NO LOITERING Florence & Assisi have spearheaded initiatives to rid Italy’s most beautiful (and most visited) places of beggars.
Unfortunately, these spears are double-edged: it also means you can’t take in the sun, eat a sandwich, or read a guidebook whilst near the monuments either. We’ll see how it’s enforced.
Naturally, the Vatican chimed in on the right of the poor to collect alms.
No problems there, but, as a friend pointed out yesterday, one guy who goes up & down the trains to Salerno asking for handouts rents in August the lawyers’ beach apartment next door to hers…
- PLEASE DON’T FEED THE PIGEONS
Venice took a bold step and revoked the vendors’ licenses of those who provide bird seed for the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square. The vendors complained that they provided a tourist attraction service, and it’s unfair. And, while I commiserate for those who are losing their livelihoods, I kind of agree with Woody Allen on this one (that pigeons are merely rats with wings).
Of course, if they hadn’t gotten rid of all the cats the city wouldn’t be so inundated with the tons of bird poop to clean off its squares and buildings in the first place.