menu

Advertising

Advertising firms are taking over the visual landscape of the ancient city and compromising its visual beauty and the safety of its inhabitants.

Dory Carr-Harris, PSFK
  • 2 january 2012



Powered by Guardian.co.uk
This article titled “Romans revolt over billboard jungle” was written by Tom Kington in Rome, for guardian.co.uk on Monday 26th December 2011 18.46 UTC

For centuries Rome has been treasured as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, a place of spectacular ruins, soaring baroque churches and cobbled piazzas shaded by century-old palms, plane trees and Mediterranean pines.

But now Romans are rising up in revolt as advertising firms plant thousands of billboards across the city, just as chainsaws are wielded to fell some of the city’s most majestic trees.

“City hall has stood by and watched as Rome is destroyed,” said Athos De Luca, an opposition council member.

The billboards are often erected along kerbs, towering over head height and obscuring bus stops and street signs. Recently a hoarding was put up so close to passing traffic on Via Tuscolana that a moped driver and his passenger were killed when they collided with it.

There has been a proliferation of protest websites and a demonstration outside Rome’s town hall, and more than 10,000 Romans have backed a new law to limit the number of billboards.

Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, a former neo-fascist elected on Silvio Berlusconi’s ticket in 2008, was forced to take notice when the head of Telecom Italia, one of Italy’s biggest advertisers, said he was so disgusted by the “jungle” of billboards that he was pulling all his street ads from the city.

Opponents said the problems started in 2009 when Alemanno announced a temporary amnesty for 32,000 billboards in the city – a mix of legal and illegal ads – and ordered all ad firms to pay rent on them while he drew up a clearer set of rules. Almost three years later those rules are still in the works, while the city has raked in about €8m (£6.9m) in rents a year.

De Luca said some of the hundreds of firms who put their adverts on the mayor’s list had cheated. “Companies listed ads they hadn’t yet erected, or put up five ads where only one was listed, turning a legal grey area into a free for all. Now they are putting up ads anywhere they please and we have up to 60,000 ads in town.”

A city hall spokeswoman said there were only 4,000 more ads erected now than listed under the amnesty, and said 3,700 illegal billboards had been removed this year.

But one activist disputed that claim, and said residents had taken to mounting night patrols, filling holes dug ready for illegal billboard poles with cement. “It’s madness out there,” said the activist, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals.

Meanwhile, Romans are keeping an eye on Alemanno’s plans to uproot lines of 100-year-old plane trees that grace the city’s wide avenues, to make way for underground car parks.

The mayor backed down over proposals for the Flaminio district after locals climbed the trees to stage protests, but activists say a scheme he has hatched next to the first-century BC Ara Pacis altar on the banks of the Tiber – this time for an underpass – could kill off up to 100 planes, which stand up to 20 metres high.

Vanna Manucci, of the heritage group Italia Nostra, said: “The planners of this mad tunnel say they can dug within 2.5 metres of the trees without killing them, blatantly ignoring the city’s own gardeners who say the safe distance is double that.”

Separately, city authorities have stepped up a cull of the planes because of damage and disease, felling 200 each year and leaving hundreds of metre-high stumps that make Roman streets resemble mouths full of broken teeth.

Augusto Burini, the city of Rome’s tree expert, said years of careless asphalting and laying fibre optic cables had damaged roots, leaving trees unstable, but disease was the main culprit.

The worst-hit trees are Rome’s palms, planted outside some of the city’s most beautiful Liberty-style villas, which have fallen prey to the red palm weevil, an insect that digs into the trunk with deadly results. Shorn of their fronds, more than 1,000 dead palms now await felling around the city.

“Chemical treatments can be tried but I fear it could a useless battle to save this city’s palms,” said Burini.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Trending

Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology december 2, 2016

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children december 2, 2016

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Innovation Debrief: Boston

See All
Travel december 2, 2016

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Food december 2, 2016

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture december 2, 2016

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport december 2, 2016

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed november 22, 2016

Digital Strategist: Why “Big Sensing” Is Key To Retail’s Future

Bud Caddell, Founder of NOBL, shares why the most capable and useful asset in any retail environment is the workforce

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated december 2, 2016

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Retail december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

Fashion december 2, 2016

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work december 2, 2016

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing december 2, 2016

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Arts & Culture december 2, 2016

Interactive Film Tells A Story About Living With Cancer

A moving song written by a father of a cancer patient comes alive in a 3D environment

Automotive december 2, 2016

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

No search results found.