My dad’s parents were from Italy, and the first time I went to Rome (when I was in my mid-twenties) I fell in love. It was my favorite city in the world. I’ve been back multiple times since but not in the last few years, so I was sad to read in a recent New York Times article that “some worry that the city is in danger of becoming a dump. Not a ‘rubbish heap of history,’ or a precious junkyard of antiquities, but an actual garbage dump.”
An Italian blogger named Massimiliano Tonelli was the New York Times’s tour guide for the depressing feature. Here’s an excerpt: “We went up to the Giardinetto del Monte Oppio, a small garden offering one of the most breathtaking views in the Western world, smack in front of the Colosseum. A Brazilian couple used the backdrop for pictures, but out of frame, and off their Instagram feed, was the Rome that tourists often choose not to see: Empty beer bottles, cigarette packs, stained paper towels, soiled clothes and littered food were spread around like some grotesque picnic. Illegal souvenir sellers stashed their blue plastic bags full of tchotchkes in the tree limbs before ducking into bushes that they used as toilets. In the neighborhoods around us, sidewalks were cluttered with soaked mattresses, refrigerators and armchairs. Garbage trucks covered in graffiti moved past walls scrawled with the city’s lament: ‘Roma Guasta’ or ‘Broken Rome.'”
The article was really sad to read, and after I finished it, I asked my Italian expert if the article was accurate. He said it was. Hopefully, the story will shed light on the situation (if travelers stop going, the locals and the government should get their act together and clean it up). In the meantime, the Times’s blogger host’s blog—Roma Fa Schifo (which means “Rome Is Gross”)—is a place to keep up with how things are going. The blog is written in Italian and there’s no translate button, but thanks to Google Translate it’s easy to copy and paste the website and translate the entries.