Launch of new traffic plan for Colosseum

The plan to ban private traffic from the stretch of Via dei Fori Imperiali near the Colosseum becomes a reality at 05.30 on Saturday 3 August.

The city will mark the occasion with a “Notte dei Fori” programme of events including a parade by the municipal police band at 21.30 and an acrobatic performance outside the Colosseum.

From 3 August the section of Via dei Fori Imperiali between Largo Corrado Ricci and the Colosseum will only be open to public transport and taxis, with a speed limit of 30 km p/h. The street will also be open to bicycles as well as emergency vehicles.

All private traffic will be diverted away from the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, up Via Cavour and onto Via degli Annibaldi, with return traffic from S. Giovanni being routed up Via Merulana in the direction of S. Maria Maggiore.

The stretch of Via dei Fori Imperiali in question will be closed completely for the duration of the Notte dei Fori, from 19.00, and will reopen 24 hours later to vehicles accepted by the new traffic plan.

Behind the initiative is the city's new mayor Ignazio Marino who said "This is not a project of [traffic] viability, but the first step towards real pedestrianisation prior to the creation of the largest archaeological park in the world." However opposition politicians say it is a "deceit" to talk of pedestrianisation when it is "merely a reduction of traffic."

Marino responded to the criticism by saying "we will arrive at a complete pedestrianisation as quickly as possible" and "we are going from 1,200 vehicles per hour to 40...that is a significant difference. We want to return the Colosseum not only to Romans but to the whole planet."

The mayor asked his detractors to imagine their reaction to another city using a monument of the importance of the Colosseum as a "roundabout". He added that resources must be found "to continue the excavations" in the area.

Marino also cited the results of the online survey launched on 25 July, stating "75 per cent said they were in favour of pedestrianisation." He said that that 24,000 people participated in the survey, and that most of them were aged between 40 and 49. The mayor said that more than 40 per cent of respondents said they routinely drive by the Forum in their private vehicles.

However business owners in the Esquilino area around Via Merulana – where much of the private traffic will be diverted after 3 August – say they have lost 80 per cent of their takings in the two weeks since construction works in preparation for the traffic plan saw nearby Via Labicana partly-closed to private traffic.