Rome’s cultural elite write to Unesco for ‘mortifying’ littering scenes | Italy

Cultural workers, artists, teachers and environmentalists living in Rome’s historic center have urged Unesco to remind the city council of its duty to protect the World Heritage Site as they denounced scenes’ mortifying” rubbish and other signs of degradation.

In a letter to Lazare Eloundou Assomo, the head of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, and signed by 150 people, the group said their complaints to authorities in the Italian capital had been ignored.

The entire historic center of Rome, home to treasures such as the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps, was inscribed on the coveted World Heritage List in 1980. However, various Roman administrations have had struggling to keep it clean, with the more recent “invasion” of bar and restaurant tables on the town’s cobbled streets and electric scooters adding to the woes.

The group argued the council was shirking its responsibility to conserve the site, calling on Unesco to push for “a turnaround”.

“Between the uncut weeds, the trash in the streets, and the noise, the overall scene is mortifying,” the band wrote in the letter.

The signatories of the letter evoke a time when the districts of central Rome were a pleasant place to live. Chiara Rapaccini, artist and widow of director Mario Monicelli, told Corriere della Sera: “We have lived in Monti since 1988 and made a documentary about the beauty of the neighborhood. Monti’s decadence hurts me, and it would have hurt Mario too.

Myriam D’Andrea, director of Ispra, the environmental agency, took issue with the electric scooters, which are often used and parked derelict. “They invaded the city in a completely wild way,” she said. On Sunday, two American tourists were each fined 400 euros for throwing an electric scooter in the Spanish Steps. A visitor from Saudi Arabia recently drove a Maserati up the 17th century staircase.

But the problems are not limited to the center – overflowing bins, graffiti and neglected parks are commonplace in Rome. Wild boars are often seen walking on the roads or searching for food in the garbage cans in the northern districts of the city.

Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri, who was elected last October, broke his promise to give the city an ‘extraordinary clean-up’ by Christmas but now says another 655 garbage collectors are being hired, the 155 first to start by the end of June. The board also approved the creation of a committee to work on “ensuring decorum”.

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