Kaputt Mundi

Would the real Rome please stand up?

It's not unusual for dyed in the wool Romans to wax lyrical about their city. Many will go so very far as to call Rome "Caput Mundi", a Latin phrase which translates as "capital of the world". Well, what once was will never be again. Those of us who know Rome, but were born and have lived elsewhere for many years (perhaps in another "Caput Mundi"), have learned how to pick at the bones of beauty.

Dirty, dishevelled Rome can be seen by all on popular Facebook page "Roma fa schifo". It's an online campaign against Comune di Roma, ATAC (public transport), AMA (waste disposal), Roman parking, and Roma gypsies, not to mention high unemployment and even higher taxes. They highlight what is wrong with Rome on a daily basis as is their right. It is rare, however, to hear the natives criticising Rome in conversation. Most Romans have long since become desensitized to the ghettoization of their suburbs. Every Roman has become desensitized to their third world public transport system, dogged by third worlders who never pay to use it.

Arguments raised by "Roma fa schifo" are valid, but the woes of Rome's metro system can be explained away when one considers the difficult task of extending a rail service through the undisturbed subterranea of ancient Rome. Preservation thereof is paramount. Similarly, parking problems faced by Romans are unavoidable, planning permission for underground / multi-story car parks would never be granted in the city centre. ATAC is beyond hope, striking at every turn. AMA are under-staffed and pay is low - uncollected refuse on Roman streets a hazardous eyesore. Roma gypsies beg, rob, and burn. In Rome, a city with a long and unfortunate history of immigration, their traditions are tolerated.

Tourists leave Rome with a rose-tinted impression, having spent several days in the historic centre and nowhere else. They do not see the mayhem which hampers Roman life, but the same can be said of every capital city steeped in history, wherein tourists pay to see the glitter and are shielded from the grime.

Solutions are hard to come by, particularly when corruption and exploitation exacerbates the problem of managing an ancient city in the modern world. Recent article "A city under strain" labelled genuine hopes of motivating public servants and extra money for public services as pipe dreams. Add nepotism into the equation and it soon becomes clear that Rome, indeed everywhere else on the peninsula, will continue to experience economic decline for a long while yet. Romans, Italians, get set for an extension in the doldrums.

The legacy of the Roman Empire continues to affect every part of life in Rome, and with a bit of imagination, one can appreciate the challenge of maintaining a city which lies directly above it's ancient predecessor. The latter, of course, being the economic lifeblood of the former.

Published on June 14th, 2014
© When In Rome Tours, article provided by Cajes.

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