Rome reduces Christmas market at Piazza Navona

New rules of decorum for market's stalls

The number of stall permits at the Christmas market in Rome's Piazza Navona have been reduced from 115 to 72, as part of new rules for the historic market which opens each year on 8 December.

The move has caused anger among the stall holders who have staged several protests including a fake funeral procession to highlight the “death” of the Befana market which has been in existence for more than 150 years.

Under the new plans the city has allowed the traditional carousel and 11 stands for theatrical shows, as well as permits for another 60 stalls selling toys and food. However by 9 December the 60 traders had yet to collect their permits, in solidarity with their colleagues who have been prohibited from trading in the market. The city warned the licensed traders that if they do not retrieve their permits by 11 December then the market will be replaced with non-commerical activities for children.

The mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino said that Piazza Navona must adhere to the "same rules of legality that this city has never wanted to enforce." It is believed that many of the banned stalls belong to the capital's powerful Tredicine family, which owns the majority of the mobile sandwich bars around the city, and has political connections.

The decision to scale down the market has been welcomed by many Romans who felt that it had become over-crowded and tacky and had lost its traditional atmosphere.