ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA. ROME – “ANYTHING GOES IN ROME”, CORRIERE DELLA SERA 18 JUNE (2015). ROME = Olympics 2024 & Jubilee 2016 & Mafia Capital of Italy & The City is Just Filthy!
Italiano = IL GRANDE DEGRADO – Roma e le regole svanite: abusivi anche gli hotel – Video – Foto. La prima puntata dell’inchiesta. La trattoria che chiede 579 euro (più 115 di mancia) a una coppia di giapponesi L’impero ambulante della dinastia Tredicine e i centurioni minacciosi Così la Capitale tratta i turisti «Tanto vengono lo stesso», CORRIERE DELLA SERA (18|06|2015).
ROMA – CAPITAL DECAY “Anything Goes in Rome” – Even hotels are unlicensed. Trattoria presented Japanese couple with bill for €579 plus €115 tip. Tredicine dynasty of street traders and Colosseum’s aggressive centurions. Tourists-will-be-back-anyway attitude di Sergio Rizzo and Gian Antonio Stella. CORRIERE DELLA SERA 18 JUNE (2015).
“You’ll be holding your guts in your hands”. A threat, the kind that no respectable person would make, gives you some idea of the bad Rome that has shouldered its way into the tourism business, like the “bulli” of old. Those 17th-century thugs were described by Antonio Pardi in “The stupendous strength and bravery of Captain Skullcrusher and Boltspitter”: “I am the great Skullcrusher, tall and proud, / before whose strength all other strength yields, / I smash, I break, I wreck, I shatter, I destroy”.
A few years ago, Francesco Merlo went to Rome with his British wife after six of the unofficial centurions were arrested: “The Colosseum area outside the Colosseum itself is a lawless place where people eat, cheat and quickly come to blows, as they did in [dialect poet Giacomo Gioachino] Belli’s day, ‘to get the ackers in the bag’”. The Merlos were quickly approached by fake ancient Romans: The question “Could you take a photo of me wearing your cucullus?” produced a Roman reply: “What about a photo of me in your cucullus?”
Free-for-all of unlicensed traders at Colosseum
The archaeological heart of the world is a sort of free-trade area dominated by the powerful Tredicine family, which followed old Donato Tredicine from Abruzzo in the Fifties. Donato sold roast chestnuts but today the Tredicines own most of the sixty-nine mobile bars dotted around tourist-rich zones. Their kingdom has expanded to include the souk of unlicensed postcard, carpet and eyewear sellers and above all the “urtisti”. Today, there are 112 of these hawkers who bear the name of the Jewish street traders who – with papal authorisation – “bumped” [“urtare”in Italian – Trans.] into passers-by with a tray of souvenirs slung round their neck and resting on their stomach.
Mayor Ignazio Marino has declared war on the Tredicines, who pay €325 a month to park big lorries in the best spots (€10 a day, the price of two rolls) and €250 for the smaller vehicles (€8 a day, or a roll and a soft drink). In the name of public decency, the mobile bars will soon be moved on to less obtrusive spots. At last. You can imagine the protests. The arguments. The fits of anger.
Tourists, the resource that Rome treats badly
Statistics tell us that tourism is big business all over the planet. Since 1990, the number of international holidaymakers has risen from 444 million to 1.138 billion. Growth last year was 51 million. If you do the maths, that’s a rise of 158%. Over the same period, Italy has grown only half as much, from 26.7 million to 48.6 million, or +82%. But Rome has hit the jackpot. Despite cash-strapped Italian holidaymakers having thinned out in recent years, total arrivals have spiked from 4 million to almost 16.5 million in the last quarter century. A fourfold rise. Overnight stays have gone from 11 million to 39 million.
Obviously, organised international tourism is concentrated in bare-bones standard packages. But if you are selling a Canadian or Korean a two-week Europe package, how can you skip Rome? Particularly with instability on the rise in some parts of the world. The result is that too many Romans already overconfident about Rome’s Caput Mundi status (former deputy mayor Mauro Cutrufo went so far as to claim that “Rome has 30-40% of the world’s artistic assets”. Wow!) have seen their conviction that “they’ve got to come here” amply confirmed.
And if the planet’s tourists have got to go to Rome, the Romans are doing them a favour letting them sleep in dirty hotels, charging them a fortune to eat badly, drive them around in often wallet-crippling taxis (“Meter broken, sorry”) or sell them three slices of tiramisù and three cappuccinos for €72, as one bar in Via Cavour did. Leading the rip-off rankings is the Trattoria Passetto near Piazza Navona, closed for presenting a Japanese couple with a bill for €695, including an unauthorised tip of €115.50.
What sense is there in treating people who provide 11% of the GDP of a city that is far weaker in other areas of the economy, starting with industry? Yet that’s how it is. For many Romans, tourists are sheep waiting to be shorn. This was pointed out a few months ago by Trivago, the online meta-search engine that compares the prices of 700,000 hotels and B&Bs around the world. A comparison of Italy’s hotel prices with those of eight other European countries showed Italian prices averaging €144 compared to the UK’s €139, Germany’s €112 and €108 in Spain. France was more expensive at €152. But what about the service?
A survey of customer satisfaction by online bookings site hotel.info provides the answer, endorsing the thousands of web-vehicled complaints about the apparently random distribution of hotel stars. One respondent lamented that the room didn’t deserve four, or even three, stars (perhaps two). There was no air conditioning. One of the two drawers in the wardrobe wouldn’t open while the other was full of crackers and other scraps of food. The minibar had an elderly sandwich in it, the TV didn’t work, the bathroom was microscopic and the shower was the kind you expect in a hostel. In short, poor value for money.
Poor or non-compliant services and no controls
The survey ranks Warsaw the best city in Europe with 7.92 points, followed by Helsinki (7.64), Berlin (7.59) and the rest. Italy’s top city is Bologna and bringing up the rear, behind Naples, are Milan and Rome. We’re talking about official hotels here, so imagine what the rest are like. It sounds incredible but one of the many unauthorised activities in Rome is keeping hotels.
The capital has 1,041 registered hotels, bed and breakfasts and residences but the Federalberghi association chair Giuseppe Roscioli reckons there could be 4,000 undeclared establishments with at least 25,000 beds, which are set to double. He says: “Since the municipal authorities were unable to do it, we mapped the web for them and said now go and inspect them. A waste of time. There are self-proclaimed B&Bs with websites that say: ‘Last five rooms still free’. But B&Bs can only have a maximum of three rooms!” It’s so chaotic that “you could end up staying at Pacciani’s house”, with the Monster of Florence.
An exaggeration? “Not at all. The international chains – and I’m speaking from experience – make inspections once a year in nit-picking detail. They arrive out of the blue, look for dust under the beds, measure the microclimate in bathrooms and count how many times the phone rings before reception answers. If anything’s wrong, they withdraw approval”. What about Italy? “No inspections at all. Haven’t been for years. Two stars, three stars, four stars don’t mean a thing if you don’t make checks. A hotel may have been excellent twenty years ago but now… It’s such a mess that with the Jubilee coming up and the risk of international terrorism, we have alerted even the prefect to the issue of customer registration.
Official tourism employs 143,000 people in Rome, more than the chemical industry in the whole of Italy. Then there are the undeclared workers, presumably at least 20,000 of them. Some are the self-proclaimed “decent people” who find it normal not to take credit cards (“Oh dear. Line’s down”) to get paid in cash and dodge taxes while the rest are borderline criminal or actual members of an underworld organisation.
Security alerts on foreign consulate websites
In a nutshell the flood of tourists pouring into Italy since 1990 has been used not badly but appallingly. A waste. As well as international embarrassments such as value for money – the latest Brand Index says that from 2012 to 2014 Italy slipped from 28th place to 57th, with much of the blame going to Rome – and even security. Remember how in the wake of the 2009 TripAdvisor warning about theft in Rome, the UK government site gov.uk warned about crime a few months ago: “Take care on public transport and in crowded areas in Rome, especially around the main railway station ‘Termini’ and on the number 64 bus, which goes to and from St Peter’s Square (…) Use a hotel safe for valuables where possible”.
Yet Rome is so beautiful, so packed with breath-taking views, evocative atmospheres, renaissance piazzas, archaeological sites and medieval remains that it deserves everyone’s love. Wolfgang Goethe was one of the many to fall under Rome’s spell. Recalling a still, bright moon over the Forum, he wrote: “The sight was magical. In such a light one ought also to see the Pantheon, the Capitol, the Portico of St. Peter’s, and the grand streets and squares. And so sun and moon, as well as the human mind, have to do here a very different job from what they do elsewhere, here where vast yet elegant masses …”
Heritage ministry figures indicate that in the twenty years since 1996, tourist numbers at Castel Sant’Angelo have doubled, tripled at the Galleria Borghese and quadrupled at the once separately managed circuit of the Colosseum, Palatine and Forum, where they have gone from fewer than a million and a half to six million. Then there is the Pantheon, which has shot from just over a million visitors to six and a half million. The boom prompts you to wonder why even if it is still a church, no one has ever thought of charging a euro or two, what with all the worries over arts funding.
Those same figures show that the mass tourism boom that packs unfeasible numbers of tables onto the pavements also denies the masses access to anything a little out of the way, such as the baths of Caracalla, the villa of the Quintili or the mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. Today, they receive more or less the same number of visitors as in 2006, despite a cumulative ticket costing just €6. There is also the Ostia Antica site, which has recorded a modest +27% even though tourist numbers have quadrupled. And let’s not linger over the superb Hadrian’s Villa, which has managed to lose a quarter of its visitors in the past two decades.
Turf wars over city-centre archaeological sites
Even more striking is the fact that city-centre sites like the Colosseum, the Palatine or the Forum have not been given the tidying up that in any other country would have been a matter of course. Hard though it is to believe, the world’s most celebrated archaeological site is split between two administrations, part being run by the municipality and the rest by central government. Nero’s Domus Aurea, for example, belongs almost entirely to the state but the walls of the baths of Trajan, built on top of Nero’s residence, are the competence of the municipality. So, too, is the garden above, where a Himalayan pine was planted eighty years ago. The tree’s roots have penetrated so deep that they pose a threat to one of the Domus Aurea’s most sublime features, the vault depicting Ulysses and Polyphemus. The pine has to go but who is going to remove it? The municipality, to which the garden belongs. But since a residents’ committee is opposed to the pine’s removal, the city authorities have appointed a cultural mediator to sort things out. Tree or frescoes? The residents of Collio Oppio have a vote, like everyone else.
It’s a ridiculous situation. The mausoleum of Augustus belongs to Rome and the Colosseum – but not the surrounding area, which is in Roma Capitale’s remit -to the state, as has been the case since 1925. Politicians have steered well clear. The situation culminates at the Forum, where the part on the right as you go from Piazza Venezia towards the Colosseum belongs to the state. On the left, the remains are municipal. Two superintendencies. Two administrations. Two ticketing systems.
Heritage minister Dario Franceschini has urged the creation of a consortium to share management of the Forum, if nothing else. Everyone knows the best solution would be to merge the administrations. But who is going to tell the workers? Who is going to take on the prickly task of merging two sites belonging to different public bodies? And who is going to tell the plethora of private companies that have everything to gain from the long-standing division?
— CORRIERE DELLA SERA (18|06|2015).
FOTO FONTE SOURCE:
— ROME – The Neglect of Rome’s Cultural Heritage by the Ministry of Culture (2008-11), and the City of Rome (2005 – 11): The Piazza Trilussa – The New York Times, The Corriere Della Sera, The Il Messaggero, The La Repubblica (09/2009).
1). ROME, ARCHAEOLOGY & CULTURAL HERITAGE: Political Corruption, Neglect & Abandonment of Rome’s Cultural Heritage & Priorities of the Tourist Industry by the Political Administration of the Ministry of Culture & the City of Rome (2005 – 2015). FOTO AND NEWS 1 THRU 606 ITEMS.
1.1). ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITECTURA. Roma sotto Marino, Roma Mafia Capitale, Roma Degrado Vista Dal Mondo: la città di incompetenza perpetua e la corruzione (2013-15). Foto & stampa 1 di 616.