Marino to remove Rome's Sampietrini

Mayor orders removal of sampietrini from busy roads in centre of Rome

The mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino has announced plans to remove the cobblestones, known locally as sampietrini, from the faster roads in the city centre.

Although Marino acknowleged that the sampietrini were "beautiful in some areas of the historic centre such as Piazza del Pantheon", he thinks they shoud be replaced with asphalt on "other heavy traffic roads, such as Via Nazionale."

Maintenance works will begin in January, covering selected "potholes, pavements and streets", and the list of roads affected will be put before the city council shortly.

The main reason cited by the mayor for the removal of the sampietrini is the danger they pose to motorcyclists who frequently end up in hospital after hitting a loose cobblestone. They are also particularly dangerous when wet, becoming slippery for motorcyclists and pedestrians alike.

Despite their dangers to traffic, Rome residents have a love-hate relationship with the cobblestones which add to the charm of the historic centre. Following Marino's announcement, Rome daily newspaper Il Messaggero conducted an online survey which reveals that over 62 per cent of Romans are opposed to the removal of the sampietrini, with only about a third in favour of the plan.

Meanwhile recent road works along Via di Monserrato, outside the Wanted in Rome office, saw the cobblestones removed from the central section of the street and replaced with asphalt.