giovedì 29 dicembre 2011

Romans revolt over billboard jungle

Advertising firms planting thousands of billboards across Rome, just as city loses some of its most majestic trees

For centuries Rome has been treasured as one of the world's most beautiful cities, a place of spectacular ruins, soaring baroque churches and cobbled piazzas shaded by century-old palms, plane trees and Mediterranean pines.

But now Romans are rising up in revolt as advertising firms plant thousands of billboards across the city, just as chainsaws are wielded to fell some of the city's most majestic trees.

"City hall has stood by and watched as Rome is destroyed," said Athos De Luca, an opposition council member.

The billboards are often erected along kerbs, towering over head height and obscuring bus stops and street signs. Recently a hoarding was put up so close to passing traffic on Via Tuscolana that a moped driver and his passenger were killed when they collided with it.

There has been a proliferation of protest websites and a demonstration outside Rome's town hall, and more than 10,000 Romans have backed a new law to limit the number of billboards.

Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno, a former neo-fascist elected on Silvio Berlusconi's ticket in 2008, was forced to take notice when the head of Telecom Italia, one of Italy's biggest advertisers, said he was so disgusted by the "jungle" of billboards that he was pulling all his street ads from the city.

Opponents said the problems started in 2009 when Alemanno announced a temporary amnesty for 32,000 billboards in the city – a mix of legal and illegal ads – and ordered all ad firms to pay rent on them while he drew up a clearer set of rules. Almost three years later those rules are still in the works, while the city has raked in about €8m (£6.9m) in rents a year.

De Luca said some of the hundreds of firms who put their adverts on the mayor's list had cheated. "Companies listed ads they hadn't yet erected, or put up five ads where only one was listed, turning a legal grey area into a free for all. Now they are putting up ads anywhere they please and we have up to 60,000 ads in town."

A city hall spokeswoman said there were only 4,000 more ads erected now than listed under the amnesty, and said 3,700 illegal billboards had been removed this year.

But one activist disputed that claim, and said residents had taken to mounting night patrols, filling holes dug ready for illegal billboard poles with cement. "It's madness out there," said the activist, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals.

Meanwhile, Romans are keeping an eye on Alemanno's plans to uproot lines of 100-year-old plane trees that grace the city's wide avenues, to make way for underground car parks.

The mayor backed down over proposals for the Flaminio district after locals climbed the trees to stage protests, but activists say a scheme he has hatched next to the first-century BC Ara Pacis altar on the banks of the Tiber – this time for an underpass – could kill off up to 100 planes, which stand up to 20 metres high.

Vanna Manucci, of the heritage group Italia Nostra, said: "The planners of this mad tunnel say they can dug within 2.5 metres of the trees without killing them, blatantly ignoring the city's own gardeners who say the safe distance is double that."

Separately, city authorities have stepped up a cull of the planes because of damage and disease, felling 200 each year and leaving hundreds of metre-high stumps that make Roman streets resemble mouths full of broken teeth.

Augusto Burini, the city of Rome's tree expert, said years of careless asphalting and laying fibre optic cables had damaged roots, leaving trees unstable, but disease was the main culprit.

The worst-hit trees are Rome's palms, planted outside some of the city's most beautiful Liberty-style villas, which have fallen prey to the red palm weevil, an insect that digs into the trunk with deadly results. Shorn of their fronds, more than 1,000 dead palms now await felling around the city.

"Chemical treatments can be tried but I fear it could a useless battle to save this city's palms," said Burini.

Tom Kington

mercoledì 9 novembre 2011

Ten questions to Mr. Davide Bordoni

Following the deaths of two young people who were killed when their scooter slammed into an illegal billboard and given the  current situation in rome regarding billboard advertising - which was recently described by the president of Telecom Italia, Franco Bernabè as "the worst [...] in the world", the Committee Cartellopoli would like to pose ten questions to Davide Bordoni, Rome's assessor for productive activity. In his role as assessor Mr. Bordoni is the person most responsable within the city administration for outdoor publicity these duties include authorizations, concessions and fines. 

The following are our ten questions which the committee cartellopoli hopes will shed more light on a number of issues which are currently unclear.

These ten questions will be published daily from 8 november until they have been answered.

1. Why, Mr. Bordoni, had the billboard upon which these two young people were killed not been removed if it had already been fined? In an interview with you given in the newspaper "la Repubblica" on 14 may, 2010, you guaranteed the removal of billboards "within 48 hours"?

2. Mr. Bordoni, why, one and a half years after the interview you gave with "la Repubblica" on 14 may 2010, where you assured  that rome's billboard problem would be resolved  "within one year", to this day there does not exist any solution, resulting in our living in what has been called "the worst cityin the world" regarding the management of outdoor pubblicity?

3. Mr. Bordoni, why have almost the totality of denunciations sent by private citizens, associations and committees regarding irregular and illegal billboards - which we will be happy to document for you whenever you wish - not received a single response?

4. Mr. Bordoni, in a declaration made by mayor alemanno on 16 january, 2011, he stated: "i have given confirmation within the new administration to assessor of commercial activity Davide Bordoni and i told him that our utmost priority is the fight against irregular commercial activity and illegal billboards". From that date ten months have passed. Can you give us a precise number of illegal billboards which have been removed as well as the reason for their removal?

5. Mr. Bordoni, following the death of these two young people you made a statement to a press agency where you declared "we are meeting with citizens' associations and environmentalists, showing them up close how a public administration works". Could you list for us the names of these associations and the dates in which these meetings took place?

6. Mr. Bordoni, on 26 may 2011 the "committee for the promotion of the popular initiative to modify the statute on outdoor publicity" was forced to "withdraw any further contribution" to the project of collaboration - begun together with the city administration - for "surveying Rome's territory in order to contrast illegal publicity". the promotion committee declared at the time that "billboards continue to be implanted with numbering and licensing which for the most part a completely out of control" and citing thus "the absence of political will within the administration as the principal cause of this situation". How do you explain the committee's position when your recent statement claims to support meeting "with citizens' associations and environmentalists, showing them up close how a public administration works"?

7. Mr. Bordoni, can you explain why the databank for publicity billboards is kept from the citizenry?

8. Mr. Bordoni, the city ordinance 37/2009 consents, beyond fiscal sanctions and the removal of illegal billboards two additional punitive mechanisms; the covering over of billboards and the revocation of any and all authorizations for those companies who have received four or more violations. Could you tell us, since the approval of the ordinance 27/2009 to today how many billboards have been covered over, how many companies have been fineds and how many of these have lost their license either partially or totally?

9. Mr. Bordoni, based on the ordinance 37/2009, on 31 december 2009 the last new billboard should have been installed in the city of rome, from that date onward any newly installed billboard should have been the result only of a "repositioning". you yourself stated in an interview to "la Repubblica" on 14 may, 2010 that: "often these are billboards that have to be repositioned because they were in an area where construction was going on such as for the new subway system". Could you tell us which implants, since january 2010, have been repositioned including the information regarding their original placement and their new position/

10. Mr Bordoni, what activites are undertaken by "AEQUAROMA" in support of rome's service of postings and pubblicity regarding the fight against illegality? How many technicians work for them and what are their qualifications? How do their surveillance techniques in the city function regarding the fight against illegal billboards? Can you tell us what have been the results achieved since " AEQUAROMA " came to work with rome's service of postings and publicity?

mercoledì 24 agosto 2011

Roberto Benigni in his underwear (for Woody Allen's new film) and the city's dirty laundry both on display (because of Mayor Alemanno and Assessor Bordoni's policies)

Does anyone realize what kind of city will be seen in the movie Woody Allen is making these days? A city swamped by the mafia of illegal billboards. Look at the background of this scene where 10 1x1 meter billboards are visible. All of them are illegal, they are all horrible and they are in Rome's first municipality, a Unesco World Heritage site. All should be removed to restore Via Veneto's lost dignity.
What we really need is for a New York's great director to say something against these billboards. We say this because our readers log in from everywhere including film studios. Wouldn't it be great if he simply said "you can't film anything in Rome without including a billboard. In New York at least it's only Times Square. How can you live like that?"
Such an exclamation could help us bring this modern-day Sack of Rome to an international public.
We already know that many production companies (mostly in advertising) are already avoiding Rome because of its visual pollution. It wouldn't be a bad thing if Mr. Allen let everyone know about this disgusting crap on every sidewalk, the movies would flee as well.
Go on, Woody. Give a nice kick in the ass to our governing officials that crawl like lemmings onto your set to kiss your hand! And these visual obstacle to your work aren't simply advertisements or visual pollution but organized crime.

It would make a good movie!

martedì 31 maggio 2011

Symbol of italian culture...


Here we are in Largo Leonardo da Vinci. This is how the greatest mind of the Renaissance, a symbol of italian culture and pride, is honored in the city of Rome.

Please contact the following authorities and newspapers and ask them to act now and put an end to this rape of our city!

Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno through his website at:

His Chief of Commerce (in italian assessore) at:

The Province of Rome at:

The Italian Ministry of Tourism at:

The editors of two of Italy's leading newspapers:

La Repubblica -

Il Giornale -


mercoledì 25 maggio 2011


Friends! Romans! Countrymen!

Cartellopoli is a blog for publishing and archiving the news, photos and statements of Rome's citizens, visitors and allies who are determined to fight the plague of advertising billboards which have literally laid waste to the city's landscape under the current city administration of Mayor Gianni Alemanno.

Rome is the only city in the west which has been transformed into a wild west where streets, squares, gardens, parks, archeological areas, monuments as well as masterworks of contemporary architecture are completely surrounded by endless and motley walls of more or less illegal billboards of every size and dimension.

It is Cartellopoli's mission to stimulate the debate by publishing photos, providing a forum for neighborhood committees and encouraging dialogue with those who work in the sector, with politicians and with our institutions.

Now, with Cartellopoli in English we wish to inform the public worldwide of this shameful situation, inflicted upon a city loved and admired around the globe like no other. It is our sincere hope that you will join us and make your voice heard by contacting Mayor Alemanno, Italy's tourism bureaus and embassies, the travel section of your local newspaper or travel blog as well as the President of Italy. We believe that  an international campaign, raising awareness of the situation can simply shame our local authorities into meaningful action. That's why every email you send out, every facebook friend you inform will surely add to an ever-louder chorus of condemnation and an unstoppable call to put an end to this travesty.

Cartellopoli's goal is exclusively this: for the city of Rome to once more have public advertising to a degree which is comparable to that of Europe's principal cities. Cartellopoli is not politically aligned with any party, confession or economic interest of any kind.