Rome has never been the cleanest city in the world, so many Romans didn’t even realize that their city was facing a “rubbish crisis”, as most tv news and newspapers are now calling it. Pictures of overflowing rubbish bins, with the occasional evil looking seagulls feeding on leftovers, are all over newspapers and social media, with people blaming the new mayor, Virginia Raggi, for something that has been part of the Roman landscape for years, together with tattooed gladiators and vendors of useless selfie sticks.
Supporters of the mayor have therefore responded with “rubbish tours”, taking videos of various areas of Rome and showing that the situation is not as bad as portrayed. Most Romans that I met are indeed skeptical about this crisis. I am of course one of them, being quite a supporter of the mayor: it would be difficult not to, given that she has dramatically improved the street where I live by finally enforcing the ban on cars that had been in place for many years, as outlined in this post.
It is such a cliche because it is true: the media are controlled by economic powers that will attack anybody who will steps on their toes. That’s indeed the case of the first woman mayor of the eternal city, who refused to host the Olympics in a city that is still paying debts incurred in 1990 for the football World Cup , thereby enraging the big Palazzinaro* Caltagirone, who is also the owner “Il Messagero”, a major newspaper of the city. Not to mention her ongoing campaign to get the Vatican to pay local taxes on their numerous properties in Rome, which of course has not been welcomed by our powerful neighbour. It is therefore not surprising that every possible piece of news, including a completely normal handshake with Angela Merkel, is exploited and misportrayed.
Matteo Renzi, former prime minister and head of the Democratic Party, is of course not a big fan of Virginia and has organized a cleaning day last weekend, with yellow-shirted volunteers improvising themselves as street cleaners for the day. Unfortunately for them, the mayor anticipated them with some extra cleaning, so that they had a hard time finding something to do: some of them were caught picking up garbage from bins so that they could fill their own plastic bags, while old men were seen raking imaginary dirt from the streets.
Paid street cleaners are putting in extra effort and volunteers are making sure everything is in order: if a pseudo waste crisis is making Rome cleaner, we are looking forward to public transport, and post offices crisis in the near future.
*Derogative Roman term for property developers