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Rome’s new mayor announces plans to ‘discourage’ car use in the city

As Roberto Gualtieri took on the mantle of mayor of Rome on Thursday, he announced plans to double paid parking spaces across the city and increase rates.

Rome's newly-elected mayor Roberto Gualtieri arrives at Rome's City Hall for a handover ceremony with outgoing mayor Virginia Raggi on October 21, 2021.
Rome's newly-elected mayor Roberto Gualtieri arrives at Rome's City Hall for a handover ceremony with outgoing mayor Virginia Raggi on October 21, 2021. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

As the capital’s newly installed leader, Gualtieri said he aims to double the 70,000 paid parking spaces currently available in the city in a staged plan that will start with eliminating almost all of Rome’s 16,800-odd free or ‘white line’ spaces, reports the news daily La Repubblica.

While exclusively residential neighbourhoods will remain largely untouched, mixed-use areas with shopping complexes will have most of their white line spaces removed, to be replaced with fee-paying ‘blue line’ spaces.

READ ALSO: Centre-left’s Roberto Gualtieri voted new mayor of Rome

“The aim is not to raise funds, but to discourage car use by linking the reform to the strengthening of public transport”, members of his team told Italian journalists.

Gualtieri, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party, beat out right-wing candidate Enrico Michetti in a run-off election held earlier in the week.

A trained historian, Gualtieri served as Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finances from 2019 to 2021, and was previously head of the European Parliament’s economic affairs committee.

He officially took over from former mayor, populist Five Star Movement’s Virginia Raggi, on Thursday morning in a formal ceremony which involved receiving a sash with the tricolour Italian flag colours.

Gualtieri and outgoing Rome mayor Virginia Raggi wave from a balcony during a handover ceremony on October 21, 2021.

Gualtieri and outgoing Rome mayor Virginia Raggi wave from a balcony during a handover ceremony on October 21st, 2021. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

As part of his plans to free up Rome’s congested roads, Gualtieri said he plans to scrap parking season passes altogether and may authorise parking inspectors to hand out fines to drivers who double park (currently they can only issue penalties to those parked in blue line spaces without displaying a valid ticket), reports Repubblica.

Double parking or parking on pedestrian crossings is commonplace in Rome, and is rarely sanctioned by police.

The right-wing newspaper Il Giornale denounced the proposals as “a massacre against car users” in a dramatically-worded article on Thursday morning in which it described the new mayor’s plans to abolish season passes for drivers as ‘diabolical’.

READ ALSO:

In aiming to reduce traffic congestion by improving Rome’s public transport networks, Gualtieri has his work cut out for him.

Delays are par for the course, worker strikes are common, and public buses are so old and decrepit that an average of 20 of them catch fire each year.

A 2019 study conducted by the public transport user app Moovit found that Rome’s public transport is as slow as Bogotá’s, with passengers waiting an average of 20 minutes for their ride, and 39 percent of travellers required to wait longer.

Rome’s transport woes were among the major issues that dominated the mayoral race, along with the city’s longstanding issues with waste management, potholes, and flooding.

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ROME

‘I love Italy’: Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

US actor Jason Momoa apologised after fans reacted angrily to him taking snaps in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel despite a strict photography ban.

'I love Italy': Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

Anyone who has visited the Sistine Chapel will recall the firm and repeated warnings from security staff: “no photos, please”.

But there has been an outcry in Italy and beyond after ‘Aquaman’ star Jason Momoa apparently paid to be allowed to disregard this rule on a recent visit to the Vatican City with friends.

Momoa. 42, is currently in Rome shooting ‘Fast X’, the 10th installment in the ‘Fast & Furious’ film saga.

He posted snaps and videos of himself on May 9th posing below the famous frescoes painted by Michelangelo with friends and what appear to be Vatican Museums staff.

But disgruntled fans quickly pointed out in the comments that visitors are typically forbidden from taking photos or videos in the chapel.
 
“We can’t take pics but celebrities can, nothing against Jason (I adore him) but it’s not fair,” one person wrote.

“All I remember about that place was ‘no photos please’,” another person wrote.

Others took issue with a video showing him reaching over a rope barrier to touch a sculpture. 

“I cringed when he rubbed his hands on the art … not cool, dude,” one person commented.

On Saturday, Momoa posted another video in which he apologised for causing offence.
 
“If you ever thought I disrespected your culture, that wasn’t my intention,” he said in the video, in which he appears shirtless in the gym apparently following a workout.
 
He said he had given the chapel “a wonderful donation to bring my friends and crew because we only had a couple days off to go experience these places.”

“I would never want to do anything to disrespect someone’s culture,” he added.

“So if I did, I apologise and it wasn’t my intention. And I definitely paid to have that private moment and gave a nice donation to the church.”

The Sistine Chapel and the rest of the Vatican Museums complex is currently open to visitors as normal, following closures and limitations on visitor numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Regular online tickets cost €17 (around $21) via the official Vatican website. It is also possible to book a two-hour private tour of the Vatican Museums for €78 per person – though the booking website doesn’t mention any exceptions to the photography ban in the Sistine Chapel.

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