These are the security measures in place in Rome this weekend

These are the security measures in place in Rome this weekend
File photo of an Italian police officer. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
Security is on maximum alert in Rome, following an attack in London on Wednesday and ahead of the arrival of 40 European heads of state and government to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome over the weekend.

Following an extraordinary meeting of Italy's anti-terror unit (CASA) on Thursday, Italy's Interior Minister announced the decision to “intensify security measures” over the weekend, particularly at locations deemed to be sensitive.

The meeting had included heads of the Italian police force and intelligence services, as well as an officer from London's Scotland Yard, to evaluate possible ramifications of Wednesday's attack.

In addition to protecting the capital from any terrorist attack, the security measures are also in place to oversee the many planned protests for the weekend. Demonstrators have organized four marches and two sit-ins, which are expected to bring in 25,000 people, and police will aim to ensure that these go ahead peacefully and without disturbances from the far-left or far-right.

So what will these measures include?

Online monitoring

Security measures were already high before Wednesday's attack, but one key new addition is the introduction of a special team to monitor 'suspicious' online profiles.

The team will be tasked with intercepting and decoding any online messages referring to terrorist activity or other kinds of disturbance. They will be assisted by police in other countries, who will pass on any concerning messages which refer to Saturday's events.

Ban on drones, trucks and vans

No civilian drones will be permitted in Rome during the weekend, as police helicopters and drones will be flying overhead to carry out surveillance.

File photo of a police helicopter flying over the Vatican: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Meanwhile, large vehicles including trucks and vans will not be permitted entry to the so-called 'blue and green zones' where the celebrations will be taking place. Forty checkpoints will be in place to carry out traffic controls.

Significant areas of the city cordoned off

The blue and green zones mentioned above refer to the areas around the City Hall and the Quirinale Presidential Palace, respectively. The map below shows the exact boundaries of the secure zones, as well as the locations of the planned protests.

Image: Polizia di Stato

The blue zone is off-limits to traffic and pedestrians from Friday night. Residents are allowed access but will undergo security checks. In the green zone, the same measures will be in place throughout the day on Saturday. Parked vehicles – including motorbikes and mopeds – and rubbish bins will be removed from some streets within the areas.

Public transport stops in the area will be closed for the day, including the Colosseo stop on Metro line B and the Barberini and Spagna stops of line A. Tram line 8 will terminate in via Arenula/Cairoli on Saturday.

Museums closed

The following museums and archaeological sites will be closed from 7pm on Friday and all day Saturday: the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, Trajan's Forum; Trajan's Market; Theatre of Marcellus, the Colosseum the Domus Aurea, the Capitoline Museums, the Vittoriano Museum Complex, and the Scuderie del Quirinale.

File photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

Security measures in Norcia

The weekend's events will include an official visit to Norcia in Umbria, where officials will meet some of the residents affected by last year's earthquake. Because of this, many of the security measures applied in Rome, including the drone ban for example, will also be extended to Norcia.

5,000 security staff

Rome has seen a significant increase in the number of security staff on patrol ever since the terror threat level was raised in the wake of the November 2015 attacks on Paris.

File photo of an armed soldier patrolling outside the Colosseum. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

But their numbers will swell even more over the weekend, with a total of 5,000 officers from across the country guarding the city, including undercover officers on the streets. In addition, snipers from Italy's anti-terror unit Digos will be positioned on rooftops around the capital.

Armed officers

The attack on London, in which a police officer guarding Parliament was stabbed, highlighted the particular risk faced by security staff. Terror group Isis has specifically urged its adherents to attack police officers, and they have been the target of attacks not only in London but in previous attacks and attempted attacks in France as well as in Milan last December, when the Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri shot at a police officer while on the run.

Police chief Franco Gabrielli has advised all members of the police force to carry their weapons, even when off duty, and reminded officers of the importance of using protective equipment.

Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.