Renato Gargiulo is a happy man. As president of the Urbanamente association, he has been campaigning for months to rid cars forever from Via Urbana, a beautiful cobbled street in Rome’s Monti district. The municipal council that represents all 22 rioni (districts) within the city’s ancient Aurelian walls recently voted to ban parking on the street in a move that will effectively, if not officially, pedestrianise it. Now Rome’s bicycle-friendly mayor, Ignazio Marino, has until Sunday to confirm or reject the move, but with 15 of the 19 municipal councillors voting across party lines in favour, it would appear a formality.
For the vast majority of people who live and work in Via Urbana, this is the first step in a broader campaign to change the way locals and tourists experience the city’s tight, winding vicoli (lanes) – where harrassed pedestrians are forced to dart around honking cars and buzzing scooters – and drag Rome kicking and screaming into line with the rest of 21st-century Europe.