Rome's new ban to ease overcrowding and 'protect' the city's image

Tourist trinket stalls in an array of iconic locations in Rome are to be banned in an attempt to clear up unsightly clutter in the city's historic centre.

Under new regulations introduced this month by the city council, stall owners selling fridge magnets, rosary beads, novelty statues of Pope Francis and keyrings in locations such as the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps have been told to move on.

The souvenir stands are often placed right in front of monuments, obscuring the view for visitors and adding to the congestion of the capital's most popular sights.

A total of 17 stalls have been given their marching orders, including those that have occupied prime spots for years outside the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, around the Spanish Steps and in Piazza Navona, an oval-shaped piazza that was once an ancient Roman chariot track.

The city council, led by mayor Viriginia Raggi, said the stalls were "incompatible with decorum and security."

Their removal was intended to "protect the cultural and monumental heritage of the capital, as well as public safety in crowded areas."

Of the 17, eight will be allowed to relocate to new spots in streets a little way away from the tourist attractions.

The regulations, which came into force on January 1, were first mooted last April.

The stalls, which for years have done a brisk trade flogging plastic statues of Michelangelo's David and miniature gladiator figurines, "ruin the image of Rome," Ms Raggi said at the time.

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"For years, the monuments of the city have been tarnished by vendors who sell drinks, panini and trinkets in front of Rome's architectural jewels. This is no longer tolerable," said the mayor, a member of the Five Star Movement, which governs at national level in coalition with the centre-Left Democratic Party.

Stall owners are, not surprisingly, upset by the new regime, arguing that they provide a service to tourists.

Many of them are Jewish and point out that their licences were granted by the Vatican in the 19th century, when it was considered unseemly for Catholics to make money out of selling religious objects such as crucifixes and rosaries.

In Italian they are nicknamed "urtisti" from the verb to bump, because they used to wear trays around their neck, occasionally knocking into people as they purveyed their wares.

"This has been in my family for seven generations," Angelo Di Porto, who runs a stall directly in front of the Trevi Fountain, told The Telegraph last year.

"We pay an annual rent and a whole range of taxes, so we are a legitimate business.

"Most of the families that run the stalls are still Jewish," said Mr Di Porto. "My ancestors came here as slaves from Jerusalem when the city was sacked by (the Roman emperor) Titus. We are among the true Romans."

Two associations that represent the hawkers have pledged to fight the new regulations through a regional administrative tribunal, saying that not enough alternative sites have been offered to the stall owners.

The Telegraph, London

See also: Ten tacky souvenirs that you'll want to collect anyway

See also: Hilarious Trump souvenirs you must buy in New York

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