Italians Protest in Rome About Dismal State of the City

Italians Protest in Rome About Dismal State of the City

ROME — Thousands of Romans gathered in front of City Hall on Saturday morning to protest the state of the Italian capital, where garbage is piled high on pothole-filled streets that have become a hazard for cars but a haven for wild boars, and where public buses catch on fire.

Protesters said they were particularly upset with Virginia Raggi, who in 2016 became the ancient city’s first female mayor with much fanfare, but has since become an object of derision for her failure to halt the city’s decline.

“Rome says enough!” they chanted.

“I’m 66 years old, and I’ve never seen a dirtier, more disorganized city,” said Franco Montini, one of the protesters.

The rally was organized by a group of concerned city residents who used Facebook and word of mouth to spread the news. Protesters on Saturday swapped stories about the daily inconveniences of living in Rome, which many described as “a disaster.”

Laura Tolino, 55, said it was “hard to find anyone who admits they voted” for Ms. Raggi. Students held up signs comparing Rome’s potholed streets to Swiss cheese. One woman held up a broom with a sign labeling it a “very useful object, but maybe unknown in Rome.” Others just held up photos of trash.

Some of Ms. Raggi’s critics, however, have leveled more troubling accusations at the mayor this past week, after the police arrested four migrants in connection with the rape and killing of a 16-year-old Italian girl in an increasingly lawless Roman neighborhood.

Ms. Raggi is already facing charges of lying to anticorruption investigators, which she denies, but if she is sentenced in November, she could resign.

Many of the liberal organizers and attendees of the rally sought Ms. Raggi’s ouster, but if they got what they wanted, they might not like what comes next. The increasingly popular and anti-immigrant League party, led by the country’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, could benefit from early elections.

“It’s a danger,” acknowledged Giulio Pelonzi, the lead City Council member for Italy’s Democratic Party, which, like Rome, is in a shambles.

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