Tredicine family awarded multiple licences for Befana market in Piazza Navona.
The Befana Christmas market returns to Piazza Navona after three years following the awarding of 48 operating licenses by the city administration of Rome mayor Virginia Raggi, of the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle.
However controversy surrounds the recipients of the licences, valid for nine years, with each category of market stall containing the same surname: Tredicine.
The powerful Tredicine family, which owns the majority of the mobile sandwich bars around the city and has political connections, has been awarded nine-year licenses to sell everything from Christmas trees and cribs to toys and sweets.
Rome councillor for economic development, tourism and labour Adriano Meloni said the city was "aiming to ensure the widest competition among the operators.”
The Befana market will have 28 stalls permitted to sell Christmas decorations, toys, sweets and children's books, while the other 20 stalls will offer traditional hand-crafted items such as cribs and toys.
In December 2014 the number of stalls at the historic market was reduced from 115 to 72 by Rome's former mayor Ignazio Marino, who subsequently launched a crack-down on the city's mobile sandwich bars.
In 2015 the number of Befana stalls was reduced to 48 by Marino, ten days before his resignation as mayor.
The 2015 market was cancelled at the last minute by Marino's successor, Rome commissioner Francesco Paolo Tronca, over “administrative irregularities” after it emerged that roughly half of the licences were granted directly or indirectly to the Tredicine family.
Last year the city hosted some cultural and children's events, including a carousel, but there were no stalls.
The 2017 Befana market opens on 2 December and runs until 6 January.
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