The Romanian consulate in Rome will now open five days a week, instead of three, to cope with the large numbers of nationals trying to obtain exit visas so that they can be sure of being allowed to return to Italy at the end of their summer holidays at home.

An average of 400-500 people have been congregating daily outside the Romanian consulate in Via del Serafico (EUR), which led to complaints from local residents, who took to the streets at the end of July in protest.

The Rome consulate deals with Romanians living in the centre and south of Italy. In the region of Lazio alone there are 70,000 legally registered Romanina immigrants.

Many of the hopeful applicants have been spending the nights on the street (sleeping in their cars or nearby park) waiting for the offices to open at 9.00. However the consulate is now also arranging a booking service to handle 250 applicants a day.

Residents tell of sleepless nights owing to skirmishes and music playing in cars, as well as excesssive litter in the parks and streets.

Our protest is not against the Romanians, let us be clear about that, says Antonello Carotenuto of the local residents committee, The fact is that the present structure is inadequate to accommodate so many people on a daily basis. These people are thus left abandoned for hours and days on the streets where we live. And we cant take it anymore.

Part of the problem is that there are only two consuls in Italy where applications can be made, one in Rome and one in Milan. To make matters worse, the consulate is understaffed. There is talk of opening two other Romanians consulates, one in Turin and one in Trieste but the go-ahead is needed is from Bucharest.