Holidays may see all motors shunned from Roman Forum road
Roman mayor says partial closure may become total for Christmas28 October, 19:45
Despite outcry from local merchants, private vehicles have been banned on the stretch of road, launching the first stage of pedestrianizing and transforming the Fascist-era stretch of road from a downtown traffic artery to a traveller and culture hub.
Only trams, emergency vehicles and taxis have been permitted since the second weekend of August. When asked Monday whether the city would block all motorized traffic from the road, Marino replied, ''We are thinking about it. We are working on various projects to propose to Roman citizens and tourists who will come to visit the capital during the Christmas period''.
''I hope in the next few days to have a choice then to propose to members of the city administration and then make an announcement,'' Marino said.
In September, Rome's transport and commerce councillors met local business associations on Thursday to address shopkeeper complaints following the controversial partial closure.
''A number (of businesses) have already closed. Others have transferred, and others are on the verge of doing so. Turnover has fallen 40-60% on this period last year,'' complained Giuseppe Roscioli of the Confcommercio retail association in September.
Meanwhile, visits to the Colosseum and other top sites of ancient Rome rose by almost 13% in the last half of August compared with the same time in 2012, according to statistics released by the Superintendence of Archaeological Heritage.
The Roman mayor, who was elected in June, has said that the road in question will eventually become the exclusive domain of pedestrians, cyclists and government vehicles.
Surveys say surrounding residents are 80% in favor of the vehicle ban, which also aims to reduce smog in the area that has created a thick layer of soot on the Colosseum's exterior.