Europe ’14: Italy.

Deputy Chair of WVCC, Mike Reddy, is currently touring through Italy and has sent up some observations relevant to WVCC.  WVCC regularly discusses transport, urban planning, solar access and energy and community amenity.  Mike’s travel diary touches on these issues.

 Part One: Rome[teaserbreak]

We have spent ten days in Rome so far, not continuously as we have travelled to other places, e.g. Florence during this fortnight.

 We are staying around 300 metres of Terminii station (Central) in an area with many hotels, hostels and other forms of accommodation from one to five star.

 There are no high rise buildings.  St Peter’s is still visible from far away with no high risers blocking the view.  Most of the buildings are around four storeys and not all have a working elevator.  The narrow streets allow many residences to be crammed into a small area.  The cafes are cheap and plentiful, so residents and tourists can easily eat out for all meals.

Central Rome is serviced by many forms of transport.  There are many pedestrians but relatively few cyclists possibly because of the hard, uneven cobbled streets.  There is a profusion of motor scooters and motor cycles.  Motorists tend to favour micro cars such as Smart and the smallest Fiats.  These are much more practicable to drive in the narrow alleys and to park in the tiny spots that are rarely available.

 Termini is also serviced by public buses, tourist buses, light rail and heavy rail including the Frecciarossa (Italy’s VFT).  The Metro is very well patronised and has automatic ticket machines easily used by tourists with several languages to select from.

 On the down side, some of the public services in Italy are frustratingly slow and bureaucratic.  It took us two hours to clear customs because of lack of air bridges and an under supply of custom personel.  I estimate there were 2500 in our queue.  The delay at customs meant that our luggage had been thrown off the carousel and took another 30 minutes to locate by which time our prebooked shuttle had left without us.  Italia poste is similarly frustrating.  Sending a few postcards may require queueing for 40 minutes.  Retrieving overseas parcels can require filling in multiple forms and paying exorbitant taxes far outweighing the value of the items sought.  Australians may complain about privatisation but Italy’s public services look like they could do with some competition.

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