The Italian Almanac


Italian News - March 7

With their graceful awnings, wrought-iron trimmings and 19th-century charm, Rome's new newspaper kiosks are an eye-pleasing addition to the city's cobbled squares. There's only one problem. Many news vendors hate them.

The new, dark-green stands are part of a larger project to beautify Rome's downtown. "We wanted kiosks that were compatible with prestigious piazze," said Grazia Ardito, the former assistant to the City Hall official responsible for substituting the old box-like kiosks with these models.

But for some vendors, aesthetic considerations seem to have outweighed practicality. Various complaints call into question the kiosks' height, which requires a ladder, or at least a chair, to get some items down; the awnings, which vendors say are not wide enough to protect against the rain; and their round shape, which forces customers to hunt around, literally, for their magazines.

The design is based on the only 19th-century kiosk to survive in Rome, on Via del Corso, the central downtown artery. Antonio Simbolotti, the architect responsible for the kiosks, countered that the round shape "optimized" the exhibition space and pointed out that city hall paid to renew the squares and sidewalks the stands occupy. "We used the kiosks to execute micro-interventions," he said. "We're convinced they're revitalizing their surroundings.