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Rome Declares City Square Car-Free

December 8, 1998

ROME (AP) _ Rome’s mayor on Tuesday decreed that Piazza del Popolo should be a piazza of the pedestrians, banning the cars that had turned the city’s largest square into a giant parking lot.

Hundreds gathered for a ceremony that made the transition to a car-free zone official, applauding when Mayor Francesco Rutelli declared: ``In this piazza, there will be no more cars, forever more!″

The ceremony followed a $2.1 million restoration of the square, whose gates have been the northern entry for pilgrims and other travelers for century upon century.

The advent of the auto meant bumper-to-bumper traffic that obscured the symmetry of the piazza’s 16th-century design and buried the base of its ancient Egyptian obelisk in car hoods and chrome.

Rome has been far less vigorous than many other Italian cities in limiting traffic in its historic center. To mollify merchants near Piazza del Popolo, the city created 334 parking places just outside the square.

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