ROME - Thousands of Rome residents gathered in the main square in front of city hall on Saturday to call for a new dignity for their city and to protest against what they say has been the failure of city authorities to deal with the rubbish, potholes and fallen trees. The rally was organized by a group called “Rome Says Enough.”
It was a peaceful protest with a clear message: Enough to the current state of affairs in one of the great capitals of the world. Hundreds of city residents of all ages gathered in front of the Renaissance city hall to voice their unhappiness with the public transport system, the lack of efforts in cleaning the filth off streets and buildings, and the dreadful state of the many roads and parks in the city.
The event was launched on social media by six young local women, with different jobs, who created the “Rome Says Enough” civic group. They are appealing for a capital city that must return to being livable and have a vision for the future.
Addressing the large crowd gathered on Saturday, one of the organizers said, “From this square which for us Romans, and for the whole world that watches us in shock, is the symbol of the eternal city, we have come to say ‘enough’ but also to shout ‘let’s start over.’”
Residents who turned out for the sit-in pointed the finger at the current city administration run by 5-Star-Movement Mayor Virginia Raggi. She was elected in 2016 promising a fresh start. Instead, she currently is under investigation for abuse of office and false testimony. They called for her to resign because they say Rome has never before been in such a poor state.
Miriam Klein has lived in Rome all her life. She arrived early in the morning for the protest wearing a white T-shirt sporting the “Rome Says Enough” slogan.
She explained that she lives in quite a central area of the city, Gregorio Settimo, near the Vatican, and her building looks onto a large parking area for tourist buses. It is surrounded, she added, by huge quantities of garbage and there is no proper collection. She said, “I am ashamed for the tourists that come off those buses.”
Organizers added that the ancient Roman Empire’s capital, with its iconic Colosseum and Trevi Fountain, has suffered too many years of neglect and corruption, and it is now urgent that something be done to remedy the situation. They say no other European capital is in such a poor state and tourists visit once but have no desire to come back.