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More News from Rome

In response to:

Rome: The Marvels and the Menace from the October 11, 2007 issue

To the Editors:

Visitors to Rome may be interested to know of some developments that have taken place since my article was published [“Rome: The Marvels and the Menace,” NYR, October 11]. Superintendent of Archaeology Angelo Bottini has just announced several imminent changes affecting the Roman Forum: after being free for the past ten years, admission will once again be subject to a charge; the ticket will also be valid for the Colosseum and the Palatine.

In addition, the church of Santa Maria Antiqua and its adjacent Oratory of the Forty Martyrs, long under restoration (with spectacular results), will finally be open to the public, along with the late antique Temple of Romulus and the Senate House. Meanwhile, the plastic columns installed in the Temple of Venus of Rome for a Valentino extravaganza last summer have finally been removed.

It is no accident that these announcements were made when the Italian government was working out its budget for next year and in the days preceding the election for party secretary of the new Democratic Party, a position for which Mayor Walter Veltroni campaigned relentlessly. The election took place on October 14, and he won.

Recent news from Rome is more distressing. Last week, a woman returning home on a commuter train from an afternoon’s shopping was attacked, robbed, raped, and killed by a Romanian gypsy who lived in the improvised encampment that has sprung up around the Tor di Quinto station, in the northern suburbs of Rome (and that has been the object of constant complaints by local residents). The incident, which lays bare most of the problems that have beset Rome in recent years, has set off a series of responses, most disturbingly an increase in vigilante activity, and not only on the part of the extreme right (although the songs echoing through Trastevere in the wee hours of last Friday night were Fascist songs rather than the usual noises produced by pub-crawling tourists).

Ingrid D. Rowland

Rome, November 8, 2007

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