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1). ROME – Rome’s costumed ‘gladiators’ are now allowed back to tourist spots, THE LOCAL NEWS – ITALY (28/04/2017).

Costumed ‘gladiators’ will be allowed to return to Rome’s major tourist spots after a regional court overturned a ban put in place by city authorities.
Rome cracked down on the gladiators (which is what they call themselves most of the time, despite usually dressing as Roman centurions) following a string of complaints accusing the actors of overcharging or even pick-pocketing unsuspecting travellers. Authorities booted them out of the capital’s historic centre, with a hefty fine for those caught flouting the ban.

But a regional administrative court on Thursday overturned the ban, ruling in favour of a group representing centurions and street artists who had lodged an appeal.

Judges said that “contingency and urgent ordinances are to remedy unforeseen emergency situations” and that the situation regarding centurions and rickshaw drivers “did not constitute an emergency”.

In their decision, judges acknowledged that “the extraordinary context of the Jubilee Year” in 2016 had made extra security measures necessary, but that since this was no longer the case, the “indiscriminate and repeated bans” were not justified.

Raggi was quick to respond to the ruling, saying the capital could not be “held hostage” by the street artists. She added that the city was working on “a new regulation to protect the city”.

“The ban on figures like centurions near the monuments of central Rome serves to preserve the dignity of this prestigious area,” Rome’s councillor for Economic Development, Tourism and Labour said in a statement, confirming that city authorities planned to work on definitive legislation to tackle the issue.

The battle between Rome’s centurions and local authorities has been going on for years.

Back in 2002, a law obligated costumed ‘street actors’ to pass an exam, including English language and a general culture test, before they could work in the capital.

One of the main issues is that the gladiators often aren’t clear that that there’s a charge for a photo with them, and some are conned out of large amounts for a photo – particularly if they haven’t worked out the conversion rate of their currency into euro.

A viral video in 2015 showed a Romanian TV crew getting their wallets stolen by a group of Colosseum centurions who took €100 as compensation for a couple of photos in front of Rome’s most iconic building.

In the video, the Romanian film crew ask onlooking police officers to help them get their money back, but the officers advise them it’s better not to take action.

The first ban in November 2015 introduced a €400 fine for those caught plying their trade without authorization, and applied to rickshaws as well as the costumed actors.
Updating these regulations was one of the first things mayor Virginia Raggi did after her election, imposing the €400 fines in her very first council meetings, and she has extended the ordinance twice since then.


— THE LOCAL NEWS – ITALY (28/04/2017).


2). ROME – Centurions return to Rome | WANTED IN ROME (28/04/2017).

Rome mayor vows to fight court order reversing city ban.
Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi has said that she will fight a ruling by Lazio regional administrative tribunal (TAR) on 27 April which overturned a city order banning centurions and rickshaws from operating around historic tourist sites in the capital.
The city’s ban was quashed by the TAR following an appeal by groups representing the costumed centurions whose trade “could not be considered an emergency” according to the court.
Mayor Raggi has vowed to introduce new legislation to “protect” the city’s heritage, tweeting immediately after the court ruling: “Rome can not be held hostage by centurions and rickshaws.”
The ban, which was introduced by Rome commissioner Francesco Paolo Tronca in November 2015, was extended by Raggi last December. The order, which included penalties of €400, was meant to remain in place until 30 July this year.
Consumer agency Codacons said the ban had been unjustified but argued that “clear rules” must be introduced governing the so-called centurions and how much they can charge tourists for appearing in souvenir photographs.
In the past the centurions have been accused of aggressive behaviour and requesting exorbitant photo fees.


— WANTED IN ROME (28/04/2017).


3). ROME – Rome’s modern-day centurions and legionaries return to Colosseum after ban is quashed, THE TELEGRAPH, U.K., (28/04/2017).

Their plastic swords and daggers might not stand up to real combat, but Rome’s modern-day centurions and legionaries are celebrating after winning a red tape battle with the city council.

Five months ago the administration, led by Virginia Raggi, the mayor, banned the latter-day Roman soldiers from hanging around monuments like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, where for years they have made a living by posing for photographs with tourists and charging money.

But the touts – who dress up in tunics, capes and leather breastplates – launched an appeal against the ruling, saying their livelihoods had been ruined.

Now a regional tribunal has ruled in their favour, slapping down the council’s ban and saying that the centurions and gladiators can resume plying their trade without fear of being hit with a 400 euro fine.

The regional administrative court of Lazio, the region which encompasses Rome, upheld the appeal, which was presented by a street artists’ association that represents the costumed touts. The tribunal said the council had failed to consult all parties sufficiently and the ban was unjustified.

Suspending the measure, it called for the introduction of clearer guidelines on where the street artists can work and how much they can charge.

Until now, the sector has been largely unregulated, with the soldiers asking for anything between five euros and 50 euros for posing with tourists, depending on their gullibility.

There have been cases in the past where they have turned abusive and aggressive towards tourists who baulk at handing over large sums of cash.

They have also been accused of harassing young women tourists and on occasion touching them inappropriately.

But Daniele Di Porto, the vice-president of the Centurion Street Artists Association, insisted that he and his fellow legionaries were a big hit with most visitors. “When we pose for photos we just ask for a little contribution. We makes kids happy, we give out information to tourists. We are happy to be regulated,” he said.

The court also overturned a ban on pedal-powered rickshaws offering rides to tourists at well-known attractions such as the Pantheon – an ancient Roman temple converted into a church – and the Roman Forum.

The council, however, appears ready to continue the fight. “The city cannot be held hostage by centurions and rickshaws,” Ms Raggi wrote in a tweet. “Change must proceed. (We need) new regulations on decorum in order to protect the city.”


— THE TELEGRAPH, U.K., (28/04/2017).


4). VIRGINIA RAGGI | TWITTER (27/04/2017).

#StopAbusiviaRoma Città non può essere ostaggio di centurioni e risciò. Cambiamento va avanti. Nuovo regolamento decoro per tutelare città.