Romans on the whole appear to approve of what Romes left-wing mayor, Walter Veltroni, has done for the city over the past five years of his tenure, but even supporters attack him for failings, at least according to a random clutch of Romans queried ahead of mayoral elections on 28-29 May.
What were, then, the points in his favour?
Politically, Im far from him, said Gaetano Mangiagli, owner of a bar overlooking the old gladiators barracks in the shadow of the Colosseum. But I recognise hes been a good mayor. For one thing, weve had so many concerts and events and hes attracted more tourists to Rome, which has been to our advantage.
He was with Franco Lacanale, whose My Bar is a few metres away. Im on the left but, politics aside, hes the best mayor Rome has ever had. Hes shown he cares. Hes restored so much of the city, brought us new squares, the Auditorium, the Ara Pacis for instance; and, with the help of the Lazio region, special new funds are to tumble in under the Rome-Capital scheme.
Gianni di Benedetto, a writer on the history of Rome, thought Veltroni had been a reasonably good mayor, giving him marks firstly for having at last had the city council approve the piano regolatore, or guidelines for governing Romes future growth, and secondly for having finally begun looking to its far-flung suburbs.
What had Veltroni done for the city? Nothing! was instead the verdict of Teresa Ruberti who runs a picture-framing business with her husband on the northern outskirts. Nothing? Hes done things for gypsies (sic), yes.
Daniele Sibillia, a young caretaker in Trastevere: Hes done a lot for art in the city, for music and film. Hes now packed the city with tourists, which is good, and were some day going to have two new metro lines.
Dr Donella Costantini, a former cardiologist at S. Camillo hospital: Hes brought some very important art shows to Rome. Hes worked a lot on the suburbs. The White Nights (Notti Bianche) have been a great success. Hes got the citys gardens into shape and banished cars from the forecourts of churches. Romes so beautiful. Why ruin it? On the whole a good mayor.
What I like, confessed Maura Ciavatta, an interior decorator, is Veltronis way of communicating with the people of Rome. I like what hes done for children in the outskirts, and in the streets where I live, near S. Giovanni, rubbish is now taken away twice a week. Theyre much cleaner.
Monica Gasto, a law student: He managed the popes funeral perfectly. Transport has improved. The exhibitions and the Notti Bianche he laid on have been great.
The second question dealt with Veltronis failings.
First bar owner: He wants business in the city to grow and then stops us from making it grow. Hes taken away our permits for outside tables. He wants more tourists and when we try and cater for them, he fines us. Hes done nothing about all the holes in the streets and not enough about rubbish.
Second bar owner: Theres the mass-tourism influx, but hes provided no toilets for them. They use ours instead. Hes done little about giving the city an adequate infrastructure.
The historian: Hes spent far too much on outside consultancies and on projecting his own image. His small social initiatives fritter away funds better used elsewhere. Hes brought in too much indirect taxation as well. If youre a restaurant owner you cant move for all the taxes youve now got to pay, and they weigh on the prices we customers pay.
Picture framer: The negative things? Everything! They think of nothing but their bellies. Theyre all the same.
Caretaker: Hes done nothing about the roads. If you have a motorino theyre risky. Romes bloody dirty as well. The buses are not great either. If the metros on strike, theyre hours late.
The doctor: Hes failed to solve the traffic problem. The roads are full of holes. The hospitals are full of broken legs and ankles. And what I hear all the time from friends visiting is that its impossible to find decent and inexpensive hotels in Rome. Some go to B&Bs instead, but its not the same thing.
The decorator: He cant say no to all the demos we get. Ive got to drive to work and when theres a demo, its a nightmare.
The student: Hes not done enough about the housing crisis. I dont think hes regulated the growth of tourism very well either.
Question three: seeing that Veltroni faces a rival candidate for mayor in the person of right-wing Gianni Alemanno, what did they want from whoever won?
First bar owner: I want the town hall to work out with us how were to deal with all these tourists.
Second bar owner: Paying the taxes we pay should automatically imply authorisation for tables etc. At present it doesnt!
Historian: I want a mayor who doesnt wave a party flag all the time. He should be everybodys mayor.
Picture lady: Lets have a change for changes sake.
Caretaker: I want a mayor who keeps his feet on the ground and listens more to what the average person wants.
Doctor: Hell have to give us parking spaces and should ban tourist buses from the centre.
Decorator: Id want him to organise road works better and give us more parking. He should abolish the tax on first homes. We should have better council kindergartens. The private ones are so nice!
Student: Id want more order in the city, a bit less chaos. If a funeral can go smoothly, so can the city.