Rome – The Eternal Stench

Rome is a strange mix of beauty and ugliness. They say it is the Eternal City. It is still here over two millennia later so it is hard to say that is incorrect, but it is also correct to say that Rome is the city of Eternal Stench.

Rome has a perfect climate, outdoor cafes, a seemingly endless supply of pizza and pasta (but much food variety beyond that), and enough old marble to satisfy the most avid pietraphile.

But Rome also has this:

Rome - The Eternal Stench

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is not the result of a workers’ strike. This is normal in Rome, just ask any Roman. The bins for collecting trash and recycling are placed on the streets where anyone from anywhere are allowed to deposit their rubbish and recycling. This arrangement takes up valuable parking space, but in the density of Roman residential neighborhoods of four and five-story apartment complexes, this is a practical solution. It does, however, mean that in Rome you are always walking past garbage. Every other block has at least one set of bins. The smell is bad in May before the heat of the summer. I hesitate to imagine how bad the eternal stench is then.

Trash collection in Rome is apparently random, a reality confirmed to me by multiple people who live here. One man said that the frequency of collections of bins had a lot to do with how important are the people living on that block. Privilege extends to garbage collection. The neighborhoods I have been in Rome are, I think, middle class to upper middle class. If I have been to a poor or rich neighborhood, I have not realized. Everywhere I have been aside form the heavy tourist areas have the same garbage problem.

The Bog of Eternal Stench
Navigating the sidewalks of Rome is not as bad as trying to cross The Bog of Eternal Stench but trends in that direction.

Then there is the dog poop problem. The city keeps the central tourist areas clean, but not the rest of the city. You cannot spend much time looking around as you walk in many neighborhoods. You have to constantly have your head down to avoid stepping in dog poop. I don’t know if the problem is feral dogs, though I have not seen any, or inconsiderate dog owners, but the dog poop is everywhere on Rome’s sidewalks. It is difficult to spot it too because the sidewalks are never swept and years of dead leaves and trash are everywhere. The poop contributes to the eternal stench.

You also need to avoid the many patches of uneven pavement and potholes. The city has not kept up in repairing the sidewalks even in the tourist areas. It is not only ugly but it is potentially dangerous for walking.

Everyone in Rome, whether residents or visitors, deserve a city that is safe and clean. Such basic necessities are not just for the rich and powerful. Rome does many things well in keeping itself up. For example, recycling is widely available in Rome, much more so than just about any city I have seen. People use them too and seem to be very good about putting the correct items in the correct bins. They deserve from their city government better garbage and recycling collection and well maintained sidewalks and streets.

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