• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Never rains but it pours for guano-hit Rome
The droppings of millions of migratory starlings have made for some slippery roads in Rome following rainfall. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Never rains but it pours for guano-hit Rome

AFP · 4 Jan 2016, 08:12

Published: 04 Jan 2016 08:12 GMT+01:00

The downpours that cleaned up the air and brought levels of fine particles back down below a World Health Organisation-recommended threshold also cleansed the city's trees of several weeks worth of guano deposited by millions of migratory starlings.
   
The result, in combination with rotting leaves, was a slippery, slimy fungal mush that forced city authorities to close roads on the banks of the Tiber for most of Saturday while refuse workers attempted to hose the streets back into a safe state.
   
Starlings swarming above Rome's historic buildings are one of the iconic sights of the capital, but dealing with their excrement is a perennial problem for the cash-strapped city.
   
This season, efforts to stop them congregating in the plane trees lining the Tiber got a late start because of cutbacks.
   
The usual method is to broadcast recordings of the screeching sound starlings themselves make to warn of the presence of a bird of prey.
   
Real hawks were also deployed on an experimental basis, with limited success before the project was thwarted by the long dry spell that sent pollution levels soaring.
   
The starlings' excrement creates a particularly slick mess because the little black birds spend their time in Italy gorging on olives on the outskirts of the Eternal City.
   
In the manner of tourists enjoying a good lunch in the country, they then return to the city centre as night falls, lured by warmer temperatures and the bright lights.

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
100 people feared dead in Wednesday's shipwreck
Images taken of Wednesday's migrant shipwreck. Photo: Marina Miltare

Survivors of a fishing boat shipwreck in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya on Wednesday said that some 100 migrants may have drowned, the International Organization of Migration said on Thursday.

Italian man lay dead in flat for 5 years before anyone noticed
The man's body was found at his home in Cagliari, Sardinia. Photo: Simon Frost

"Nobody questioned his disappearance, nobody went looking for him."

'20 to 30' people dead in new migrant shipwreck
The latest disaster comes two days after five people died while trying to make the crossing to Italy. Photo: Marinare Militare

Between 20 to 30 people have drowned in the latest migrant shipwreck off Libya.

Italians plea to adopt baby orphaned in migrant tragedy
Migrants await rescue off the Libyan coast on Wednesday. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

After the baby girl's parents died at sea, hundreds of Italians have asked to adopt the baby girl.

Purrfect: cat-filled beach is a top tourist spot in Sardinia
A remote Sardinian beach home to 60 cats, has been named one of Sardinia's best tourist attractions. Photo: I Gatti Su Pallosu

Visitors think the cat sanctuary near the tiny fishing hamlet of Su Pallosu is the cat's whiskers.

IN PICTURES
Huge sinkhole in city centre will cost Florence €5 million
Photo: Claudio Giovannini/AFP

The accident is thought to be down to human error.

India allows accused Italian marine to go home
Italian marines Salvatore Girone (L) and Massimiliano Latorre (R) pictured in Kochi, India, in December 2012. Photo: Strdel/AFP

Under his new bail conditions, Salvatore Girone must return to Delhi within one month if the PCA rules that he face trial in India.

Striking pictures capture moment of migrant shipwreck

The operation wound up late on Wednesday without finding any further survivors or victims.

Two men jailed in Italy for social media terror threats
The threats were accompanied by photos of the monuments and written in Italian, French and Arabic. Photo: Jason Howie/Flickr

The two men had downloaded an online "manual" which covered the production of home-made explosives, carrying weapons and operating clandestinely on the internet.

Five migrants dead in shipwreck: Italian navy
500 people were pulled to safety and seven bodies recovered after a heavily crowded boat overturned off the Libyan coast. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

UPDATED: The navy said at least 550 people had been pulled to safety but added that the rescue operation was still underway and that the death toll could rise.

Did a Nazi official save Ponte Vecchio from destruction?
National
How the brutal murder of an anti-mafia hero altered Sicily
Travel
These are the best beaches within easy reach of Rome
National
Why Italians are falling out of love with the EU
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Business & Money
Foreign, female and a self-made success in arduous Italy
National
How Italy's richest region is feeling the migrant strain
Culture
Rome mulls 'metro museum' after new line unearths ruin
National
Why Italy's facing a birth rate apocalypse
National
Why talk of barriers is opening up old wounds in South Tyrol
Culture
Huge Roman villa found under Amalfi church set to open
Travel
Two men kicked off plane in what captain calls 'racist act'
Meet the expats making a career out of Italian food
Society
'Staying single is why I'm the world's oldest person'
Travel
Where can you find the best beaches in Italy?
The ultimate guide to the insanity of driving in Italy
Travel
Eight of Rome's most tantalizing foreign food gems
Migrant arrivals in Italy top 30,000 for 2016: navy
Italy’s deadliest earthquakes over the last 100 years
Travel
US passports now need six months validity for Italy
Travel
Six incredible ways Italy profoundly changed my life
Society
Cheese, wine and family: the Italian way to live beyond 100
2,532
jobs available