The Italian Almanac
Italian News - April 12
Within a year, the largest train station in Rome - the bustling, slightly seedy Stazione Termini - will most likely be renamed Pope John Paul II Station, Mayor Walter Veltroni announced Monday. But to many of the thousands of Italians who stood waiting on Termini's teeming platforms on Monday, it seemed a curious, even dubious honor.
In fairness, John Paul will get a piazza too - as well as coins - and presumably many other honors. The mayor also announced Monday that the Piazza Tor Vergata, which served as center stage for a huge youth rally during the Roman Catholic Church's Jubilee in 2000, would also be renamed for John Paul II.
Called to comment on the idea, the Vatican Secretary of State's Office said: "We don't know anything about it." Indeed, officials in Veltroni's office admitted that the new pope would have to be consulted before moving ahead with the proposal, although they expressed confidence that - whether he is European, African or Latin American, old or young - John Paul's successor would see the city's logic.
"There is great affection this city has for the pope, and the choice of the train station is also symbolic," said Paolo Soldini, a press officer of the mayor. "This pope loved to travel, he was open to new people," he explained. "The station is a place for meeting between different ethnicity and cultures. So Termini is the place most suited to carrying his name."