Rome's 'living room' near Piazza del Popolo auto-free

City hall ban cars, scooters from more streets in 'Trident' zone

(ANSA) - Rome, October 20 - An extended ban on cars, trucks and even scooters in more streets in Rome's historic centre took effect Monday morning, with police on patrol in the area to prevent traffic in the "the living room of Rome".
    But they won't immediately assess the 80-euro fine for breaching the ban in the area of the three major 'Trident' zone streets stretching out from Piazza del Popolo: Via di Ripetta, Via del Corso, and Via del Babuino.
    Residents will have some time to adjust to the ban, which began Monday at 6:30 a.m. local time, extends weekdays from that hour until 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.
    Rome's city officials in a statement called Piazza del Popolo "the living room" of the city which should be made more "livable" for residents and visitors by reducing traffic.
    "Rome is enriched by an important area of multiple vocations: historical, cultural and commercial center," said the statement on the municipal website. "Starting from Piazza del Popolo - the 'living room of Rome' - the three streets that fan out: Babuino, Corso, and Ripetta, and all adjacent streets, with the entry into force of the (pedestrian zone), create new livability for area residents, for citizens, and tourists," it added. Citizens, some of who are already protesting, can comment on the ban at a meeting Wednesday.
    "We cannot figure out where to park," said one exasperated driver in a Smart car Monday morning.
    More parking spots are to be provided for non-residents of the area outside the zone, with prices ranging up to 150 euros per month, or 15 euros per day - rates that some say are exorbitant.
    Scooter drivers protested Sunday at Piazza Augusto Imperatore, near the Ara Pacis, while other drivers said they don't know how they will get to work, since they cannot afford monthly parking fees in a city where many parking spots are free. The permanent ban extends a pedestrian zone put in place in August affecting about 15 small streets around Rome's popular Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna, a move which tourists have hailed as "wonderful" and "marvelous".
    Said one tourist: "In Rome, which is an open-air museum, it should not be otherwise".
    Public transportation will still be permitted in the new pedestrian zone.
    The city of Rome, on its official website, has previously said that closing the area to vehicles will help to restore the image of the area to that shown in the popular 1953 film 'Roman Holiday', starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
    Parts of the film were shot around the Spanish Steps.
    The latest move comes after Rome's city council agreed last year to strict limits on traffic along the Via dei Fori Imperiali, connecting the iconic Colosseum with Piazza Venezia and running through the Roman Forum.
    That also caused protest and controversy but Mayor Ignazio Marino, an avid cyclist, has pressed ahead with plans to ban cars in additional parts of the historic centre.


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