Residents fear the closure of Feltrinelli bookstore is just the tip of the iceberg
Shutters are being permanently lowered in Via Nazionale, Via del Corso, Via Frattina, and even along streets in Prati. The historic center, following restrictions implemented during the pandemic, is experiencing a devastating crisis in its most vital sector, now affecting well-known brands in addition to independent stores.
The latest case, that of the Feltrinelli bookstore in the Alberto Sordi Gallery- which will be closed to the public for at least 10 months due to renovations, pending an assessment of developments- is just the tip of the iceberg of a phenomenon that continues to mow down the commercial fabric of the heart of the Eternal City. Even now that tourists are returning to Rome and smart working is gradually being reduced, the recovery in this area has not shifted into high gear.
The causes? Excessively high rents, hit-and-run tourism, and depopulation. The problem "has many implications that involve urban policies, heritage, and implementing policies that also help bring residents and young people to the center," argues Mayor Roberto Gualtieri.
Historic stores are being wiped out
One only has to take a walk down main streets such as Via Nazionale, Corso Vittorio, or within the Piazza Colonna gallery itself to get a sense of the difficulties in the sector.
Even the shopping streets around the Spanish Steps feature several permanently closed doors, not to mention stores of quality crafts.
Residents have been the first to sound the alarm. "So many neighborhood stores are closing on a continuous basis," stressed Viviana Di Capua, president of the Association of Historical Center Inhabitants to Il Messaggero.
"Often replaced by the usual slew of eating and drinking establishments and clubs, to the detriment of the quality of the commercial offer and the livability of the neighborhoods”. Those that remain, "we try to hold on to them and help them," Di Capua added, "by giving them customers and therefore a chance”.
The crisis is not slowing down
"Despite the obvious difficulties, the cost of leases does not seem to be decreasing," observes Romolo Guasco, director of Confcommercio Roma. "Certainly in a climate of recovery some international brands will arrive, but there is a risk of losing the originality and quality of Rome's commercial offerings.
Therefore, Guasco argues, "we need to help historic stores by applying and financing the regional law that concerns them." The commercial landscape inside the Aurelian Walls, in short, is still struggling. "The situation is bleak, with many stores closed permanently from Via Nazionale to Via Frattina," explains Valter Giammaria, president of Confesercenti Roma.
"A sign that there are still difficulties even after the pandemic. The situation has improved, but we are still not out of the tunnel." Residents, however, also point the finger at outdoor tables. "Occupation of public land cannot stand on the platforms for the disabled, they cannot derogate from the Highway Code," says the leader of the Association of Historical Center Inhabitants.
"One must have the logic that the Center and its streets and squares must be usable for everyone.”
Photo credit: wjarek / Shutterstock.com
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A scary trend in Rome: historic stores from Feltrinelli to Frachi are closing
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