Fears grow over Rome’s historic ruins as part of third century gate falls off

A chunk of a third century Roman gate has broken off, the latest incident of disrepair in the storied Italian capital.

Local police and firefighters were called to the scene soon after a piece of the Porta Maggiore – Larger Gate – fell to the ground on Tuesday morning. The culprit, said local police, could be weeds.

“Part of the tuffs have fallen off – the door itself hasn’t collapsed” local government sources told daily newspaper La Repubblica. “There is no damage to property or people.”

Porta Maggiore is one of several gates belonging to the Aurelian Walls, a line of walls built during the rule of Aurelian and later Probus in the late third century and is now an important tourist attraction.

The gate is located less than two kilometres from Rome’s central train station Termini, a trafficked area of the capital, particularly with June’s arrival of mass tourism.

The incident is just one in a list of mismanagement problems that have plagued the Italian capital for years, angering Romans and often shocking tourists.

From roads riddled with potholes and overgrown shrubs, to an inexistent public transport system and a rubbish crisis set to get worse as temperatures begin to soar – Rome’s basic services have been in stark decline for some time.

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The refuse problem recently made it onto the front page of La Repubblica, whose headline for 1 May was “Clean this city” followed by several photographs of the streets of Rome lined with mountains of rubbish.

Cleaning up Rome’s pungent streets was one of the campaign promises made by Roberto Gualtieri when he was voted mayor of Rome last year. Little has been done since then, however, with some locals saying the situation has worsened.

In a scathing comment that mirrored the anger felt across much of the local Roman population, Teresa Coratella of the European Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted: “Don’t come to Rome. The city is lost and abandoned.

“Those who manage it don’t love it and use it as a parking lot. This is demonstrated by the everyday life in which they force us to live. Don’t come to Rome and don’t give us your money. It only serves to feed degradation and discomfort”.

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