Funiculi, funicula. Oh, give me a break!

RomaritardiautobusI guess I missed this during last spring’s mayoral election campaign here in Rome, but it seems the mayoress (she stupidly has insisted on being called “sindaca” which is not an Italian word – the word is sindaco and can just as easily refer to a woman as a man) is going ahead with her idea of building a funicular lift to link the northwestern periphery area called Casalotti to the first station, Battastini, on the Metro A line.

The idea has met with general skepticism in a city where public transport is a near disaster and where talk is cheap. (Need I remind anyone that the idea of a bridge over the Straits of Messina has been under discussion in Italy for more than 40 years, even longer perhaps and that nothing has ever been built? And to my mind never will be.)

A report last month by a city watchdog committee revealed that Romans are extremely dissatisfied with city services. On a scale of ten, citizens rate street cleanliness at only 3.3, garbage collection at 4.2, bus and tram service at 4,5, subway service at 5.5, and lighting – the only item in this category to have received a better vote than last year – at 6.2. The overall quality of life in the country’s capital stands at 5.1, a bit lower than last year and continuing the decline that began in 2012. (Culture, water supply, social services and taxis are instead above the merely passing level, which in the Italian grade system stands at 6.) So a funicular? Is these conditions? No wonder skepticism is the order of the day.

pullman-kka--398x174@Corriere-Web-RomaThe greatest dissatisfaction with city conditions can be found in the centro storico, the historic center, which is where I live and which is currently turning into a real disaster zone.  Potholes have become a real nightmare, especially for the city’s tens of thousands of motorcyclists. Uncared for cobblestones, missing their connecting cement or sometimes missing altogether, are a growing hazard for those on foot. Buses are overcrowded and delays are enormous. Garbage collection is at best spotty. The sidewalks are jammed by unlicensed peddlers. Fast-food eateries are everywhere. Tourist buses park illegally, clogging the downtown area, despite plans, more plans and even more plans, to contain their presence. About which the city police do nothing. Unlicensed vacation apartments, thousands of them, are changing (in a negative way) the residential nature of the center and authorities do nothing. The city is out of control and so far the supposedly reformist new mayor and her upstart Five Star Movement has shown no indication that they will have the ability to do something about any of this.

It’s truer than ever: it’s a nice place to visit but you’d never want to live here. Not these days.

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