Trastevere travails

Not an Italian in sight!

Not an Italian in sight!

This morning while putting out today’s garbage – plastic, cans and glass –  on the street as required, I checked out the compost bin inside our building and yet once again found that someone had dumped a bag of unseparated garbage, ignoring the bilingual warnings not to discard anything there but food remains. No plastic. No paper. No trash, I have written in both English and Italian. But to no avail. Someone, and it often hard to know who, once again has made it clear he, she or they don’t give a damn about Rome’s rules nor that of our small building – nine apartments – in the Trastevere district (rules which include not leaving any other trash inside the building).

These constant transgressions show that recycling and its benefits has yet to truly permeate the public conscience. Even worse, from my own personal point of view, is that I often end up being a cross between a monitor and a janitor. Our building has a cleaner who comes in only twice a week. If I come home in the early afternoon, long after the sanitation department has made its rounds, and find a bag of undivided trash sitting in the hall, I have two choices if I want our building to stay clean and, in the event inspectors arrive – which they sometimes do, to avoid a fine. Either I can put on gloves and separate the trash into the required categories myself and keep it on my terrace until the appropriate day arrives, OR I can get into my car or onto my motorbike and take the offending bag or bags up to a dumpster (there are no longer any in the immediate area) further up on Viale Trastevere or up on the Janiculum Hill. A royal pain in the you know what.

More urban decay

More urban decay

Why me you may well ask? Partly because I care and partly because at the moment I am one of only two owner-occupants in this building and the other, also a foreigner, doesn’t have a car. He helps by putting offending bags of garbage out on the street but otherwise would have to carry them for blocks and blocks even though he, like myself, is no longer a spring chicken.

The problem is compounded by the fact that at present, scores and scores of apartments in Trastevere and in other areas of the historic center as well, have been transformed into vacation apartments, often managed by agencies, so that neither the tenants or the apartment owners have any real stake in following the rules or, for that matter, in any real sense of community.

In recent years, hundreds if not thousands of Italians have taken advantage of the currently low real estate prices here to buy flats and transform them – often illegally –  into vacation homes for tourists who increasingly eschew more expensive hotels in favour of apartments which cost less on a nightly basis and where they can save money by sometimes cooking and eating at home. Rome’s historic center is thus being rapidly transformed into a tourist ghetto where the number of full-time inhabitants is dwindling. It is most disheartening, to say the least.

2 Responses to “Trastevere travails

  • The trash situation is outrageous. I know you are fastidious about it.
    Despite being one of those tourists happily renting apartments (well, only one in Rome), it is sad to see the area transformed, degraded. Maybe you need a webcam to catch the offender (s) and I’ll help you string ’em up next time I’m in town. Unfortunate that renters can be assessed for mistreating the apartment, but not the public spaces.

  • Thanks for the commiseration. Yes, it’s a mess. I thought about cameras but Italy has vey strict privacy laws that would make it very complicated. Nothing wrong with renting apartments. I do it myself when I travel. But when an entire neighborhood turns into a bed and breakfast, it’s hard to take.

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