An unusual view should have captured your attention while walking in downton Rome this month: there are no market stands in Piazza Navona. The city’s most famous Christmas market hasn’t started yet and may be set not to take place at all this year.
Ignazio Marino, Rome’s mayor, is pursuing a fierce battle versus illegality and the excessive number of street vendors in the city centre. It’s a long and conflictual process due to the powerful business lobbies of the Eternal City, but it is already bearing some fruits.
In the last few months Navona square has become a much better place. The tables of restaurants and coffee bars abutting the square all had to give up space and now only occupy the walkabouts. The same happened with the painters and portraitists who used to occupy most of the inner space of the ellitic square. At Christmas it was the turn of the traditional market’s stands with the Mayor cutting their licenses from 115 to 72 so that at least some of the square would still be enjoyable.
Their lobby reacted to this decision by not buying any of the licenses. Therefore the square has no stalls as of now. Things might change, as they appealed against the last-minute cut decided by our local government, on December 19. But you stil have some other days to enjoy Navona square without stalls at Christmas time and it may stay like this for the rest of the season holidays.
So what’s going to happen? The overall project is to transform the square until January 6, Epiphany, into a kids entertainment area. Puppets, Christmas shows, light games, merry-go-rounds and a living Nativity scene with historical costumes from the Opera house dress storages. In any case, an the underground space, the Vignola yard, below the square level, will host an animated manger scene from the village of Penna in Teverina in Umbria. 15sq meters of arts and crafts with a Palestinian background.
CURBING DOWNTOWN STALLS AND WRITERS
The halt to stalls and other business activities occupying that public soil in the city centre goes much beyound Piazza Navona. Marino thinks that Rome’s landmarks should be free of food trucks as it was the case for the March 27 visit to the Colosseum by US president Obama. Our mayor wants fewer food trucks, but paying more taxes for their licenses.
And in order to improve Rome’s image he also wants to actively chase writers who often vandalize historical buildings. The city police is setting up special traps so that they can get caught on the spot and be sent to jail if necessary. Our city centre is starting to look better!