Rome investigates Piazza Navona Christmas market

Outcry after Tredicine clan win tenders for Piazza Navona Christmas stalls.

Rome commissioner Francesco Paolo Tronca has launched an investigation after it emerged that many of the tenders for the Befana Christmas market at Piazza Navona ended up in the hands of Rome's Tredicine clan.

The probe follows an outcry after roughly half of the 42 tenders for stalls were allegedly awarded directly or indirectly to the powerful clan which owns the majority of the mobile sandwich bars around the city, and has political connections. The controversy was compounded by the fact that the tenders were for ten years.

It follows moves by the city's former mayor Ignazio Marino to reduce the number of stalls at the historic market, which will run from 6 December until 6 January.

The city had originally offered 48 spaces this year but due to an insufficient number of requests and several denied applications, there will now be 42 stands, down from 72 last year, and 115 the year before.

The clampdown under Marino was part of wider efforts to curtail the number of mobile street traders in the capital and their invasion of key tourist sites. Marino's legislation received court backing from the Lazio regional administrative tribunal (TAR) but was deeply unpopular with traders, many of them connected to the Tredicine.