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The BBC's Julian Keane
Rutelli's achilles heel is his lack of political experience
 real 28k

Friday, 11 May, 2001, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Postcard from Rome
Milan 8 May South Tyrol 7 May Rome 11 May Rome 12 May Rome 14 May Messina 9 May Palermo 10 May

11 May

Julian Keane reports from Rome whose mayor - Francesco Rutelli - stepped down to become a leading candidate in the 13 May parliamentary election.

It may be raining heavily in Rome, but that hasn't stopped the city's taxi drivers keeping their foot firmly on the accelerator pedal.

Colosseum
Rome's traffic problems have dramatically improved
A steady flow of tourists into the Italian capital means business is brisk and there's no shortage of passengers to pick up.

And there's a lot of competition for space on the wet tarmac.

But the taxis are no match for the thousands of scooters, weaving their way through the traffic.

Environmental overdrive

Any pedestrian who has the audacity to try and make use of the freshly painted zebra crossings is greeted with a few choice words and some hand signals that have nothing to do with the highway code.

You might think little has changed in Rome , a city notorious for its never ending traffic jams.

And yet change is in the air - literally. Pollution levels have dropped.

The city council has gone into environmental overdrive.

Public buildings have been cleaned up, trees planted, a new underpass built to ease congestion near St Peter's square.

But some ideas have been less successful.

There was a scheme to reduce traffic by only allowing into the city-centre cars with number plates ending in an even number one day, an uneven one the next.

Spanish steps
There have been improvements for residents and tourists alike
Romans found a way round the plan by buying a second car - the idea was quietly dropped. All the same, efforts to improve the environment for both tourists and local residents continue.

Public transport is much improved, and new pedestrian islands are popping up everywhere around the major basilicas.

Traffic jams haven't gone away. You'll still hear the car horns, the heated exchanges, the cacophony of a roman rush hour.

It's just that the eternal city now seems determined to do something about one of its eternal problems.


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02 Feb 01 | Europe
Timeline: Italy
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