Shopkeepers in the St Peter's area of Rome are complaining of an "invasion" of illegal street vendors in the wake of mayor Ignazio Marino's pledge to tackle the problem around five key zones: the Pantheon, Colosseum, Piazza di Spagna, the Trevi Fontain and Piazza Navona.
Retailers around the Vatican told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that they have witnessed a surge of illegal traders in recent days. "How could the mayor forget about S. Pietro?" asked Ilaria Bussiglieri, president of the association of shopkeepers on Via della Conciliazione, the main street leading from the river Tiber to St Peter's Square.
Calling it an "invasion", Bussiglieri estimated that on 10 July there were at least 400 illegal street sellers in the area, a situation she described as "unbearable, as well as unsustainable." She said Marino's plan was an "excellent initiative" but asked "does Marino know that the entire area incorporating Via Andrea Doria, the Vatican Museums, Castel S. Angelo, Porta Angelica, Via Ottaviano and Piazza S. Pietro is covered by just two undercover police?"
Bussiglieri claims that traders in the St Peter's area feel "abandoned" by Marino in his quest to rid the centre of illegal street vendors, who sell mainly counterfeit goods from handbags to parasols to souvenirs. "And this is an area under the eyes of the world's tourists" she added.