The Italian Almanac

posing the stones

Italian News - August 5

The Eternal City's centuries-old cobblestone streets may soon be relegated to a few tourist-friendly pedestrian squares as Rome paves over the huge slabs that first appeared more than 2,000 years ago.

During the next two months, the city council plans to resurface one major central thoroughfare, Via Delle Botteghe Oscure, and stretches of the roads that run alongside the River Tiber. It is part of a broader plan to restrict the use of cobblestones to pedestrian areas.

Besides the obvious shortfalls - the stones are pothole-prone and expensive to replace - the vibrations from cars and buses passing over them pose a danger to the monuments and palaces that line the Italian capital's streets.

The plan elicits mixed feelings among Romans, fed up with driving their scooters over the potholed roads but attached to the picturesque stones, known locally as "sampietrini," or "little stones of St. Peter."