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Unità
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody! :)

The purpose of this thread is to showcase some Italian cities which have been going through a redevelopment, in order to favour pedestrians, bicycles and public transport while reducing car usage.

Italy has one of the highest car ownership rates in the world. It ranks 5th among the large countries (i.e. excluding San Marino, Liechtenstein...), just behind the US, Iceland, Australia and New Zealand. Italians owned 679 cars every 1000 inhabitants in 2010, and that's way too much for a dense country like Italy.

Both the cause and the effect of this is a large suburban sprawl: a lot of people left the cities and moved to the countryside, where a lot of detached houses were built. This expansion was often unregulated, and led to a huge car dependency as many of these houses don't even have a walking path to the closest bus station :nuts:

However, after decades of "escape from the city", in recent years a lot of people decided to move back to central areas. This return is being accompanied by measures to make the city more liveable, one of which is the gradual exclusion of cars from the central areas in order to create pedestrian, cycling and green zones.

The pattern is quite similar in most of the examples I'll show here: a heavier transport system is designed (trolleybus, tram, underground, suburban rail) and becomes the occasion to restrict the central areas to cars.
These schemes are often strongly opposed by citizens, afraid of changing their habits, and by shop owners who are afraid of losing customers.

If you have any questions or suggestions, or if you want me to talk about a particular Italian city, please let me know! :)
 

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Unità
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Milan - Area C

Let's begin with Milan, the largest Italian metropolitan area.

The precondition to any pedestrianisation in the city was the introduction of an entrance fee to the city centre, in order to reduce the overall number of cars.
Such tax was introduced in January 2008 as a pollution charge, but it was extended to a congestion charge in January 2012, called Area C.
Every car entering the city centre from 7.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. must pay 5 euro, except on the weekends.
Even residents in the city centre have to pay, but they have 40 free accesses per year and a reduced fare of 2 euro.

Although Area C didn't directly bring any street redevelopment, it brought a huge improvement in the city centre, with traffic being reduced by 30-35% inside Area C and by 7% in the rest of the city.

An agreement with underground park owners made it possible to further remove a lot of street parking lots, allowing for all the following interventions to happen.

The border of Area C is signed by two parallel ring roads, which run where the ancient 16th century Spanish Walls used to be. Most of the grand historical gates, which are more recent, are still in place.

This was Milan in 1573:



And this is the border of Area C nowadays (signed in red):



The reception of Area C was very negative at the beginning. Only 35% of people in Milan were favourable after 1 month from the introduction.
On the first day of Area C, the former deputy mayor entered the city with a horse-drawn carriage, implying that this measure was a leap back to the past.
You can also see one of the gates in the background, called Porta Venezia (1827).



A few days later, a resident of the city centre chained herself to the Mayor's house in order to protest. She agreed to unchain herself only when the mayor came and spoke to her.



Despite these funny protests, after only 1 year 58,5% of people were satisfied with Area C. It has quickly gotten into Milanese habits, and most people are happy with the traffic reduction.
I promise that next post will show some actual before-after pictures of pedestrian areas :)
 

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Area C should be dismantled, and so most Z.T.L. in Italy.

Yes, many medieval city centers are old, but in 1800 there hadn't been Internet, electricity, gas pipes and the like. They are all fit with these modern amenities. Why is car singled out as something to be "banned" among many comforts of modern life?
 

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Nerd Immunity
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Oh please. Possibly because hundreds of thousand cars in a city shrink the walkabke space.

I live in a city center and don't need car for going to work,going shopping or anything else. I mean, I am allowed use my car as resident inside the ZTL - but what for?.

Had cars the unrestrained possibility to enter the ZTL, my personal daily life would be strongly affected. I should dodge through narrow lanes escaping from moving cars and zigzag among cars parked all around.

It's not an elitist claim. Anyone in Europe can see how unaccessible city cores have changed those -once- dilapidated areas for the better. Historical city centres are the civic pride of every citizen, as well as cultural and leisure areas.

Oh, when I have to get out of town I just take my car out of the courtyard and... drive on. hard to believe but true.

Most of the other modern amenities you mentioned don't have such downsides.
 

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I don't oppose pedestrianization of small areas (coupled with extensive underground parking facilities nearby), or even some tolls that apply to everyone, and whose proceeds are used exclusively to fund car facilities.

The ZTLs are hideous in that they create privileges for people who live in an area, excluding everything else. Bologna for instance has a particularly outrageous ZTL system where, if you don't live there, you can't possible drive to the most central areas, payment or no payment.
 

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When a good network of public transport is viable, then it's good to seclude fragile areas from unlimited traffic.

Letting anybody in Bologna centre is the shortest way to turn back to decades when that area was packed with wheeled tin cans, buildings were grey and lacking plaster, and poor people lived in crowded apartments but had no money to restore the place they were living in.

Nowadays city cores may look like rich ghettoes to some extent, until one consider servicing and repairing those luscious palazzoes is up to affluent people. A win-win outcome.

The restoration of whole historical areas like Bologna, Brescia, Turin and hundreds of more cities and towns by means of mostly private funds -instead of barely replacing buildings- is probably the most imposing and decentralised enterprise of recoverying artistic and historical heritage ever.

Historical districts are scarce goods, once they're gone they're gone for good.

Driving freely wherever is no entitlement at all.
 

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^^ Electric cars will solve the problem of pollution at point-of-use.

Unfortunately, most Italian cities were too poor when the early 19th century large-scale renovations happened in places like Berlin, Paris or Madrid. Fortunately, war destruction was less than that of other countries, however in absence of tragic war destruction they didn't muster the resources and political willingness for getting rid of old buildings when there was more social appetite and a favorable view of a modernist future for removing some of them. Genova is a good case of that: parts of the old town are outright unhealthy with extremely narrow allows that don't allow sunlight on the lower floors, it would have been a nice place if they had just demolished the port workers' quarters in the late 1940s but it only got the Sopraelevata.

Example:

(C) Comune di Genova
 

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Unità
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The point is that cars occupy a lot of space, and city centres don't have much of it. My mom used to visit her cousin in the early '70s, and they used to drive to the centre of Milan. She remembers staying in line for 2 or 3 hours to get to the centre! :nuts:
Despite the fact that there were only a small percentage of the cars we have nowadays, the centre was already overcrowded by cars and there was very little solution to that.

If you don't limit the access to the city, either by charging entrance and/or parking, you have too much traffic and people who really need to drive into the city (some workers, disabled, emergency, elderly, relocators...) have a really hard time due to congestion.

You also reduce the quality of life, because cars ruin your city centre experience. I don't like to walk in an environment dominated by cars, and I'm totally impaired if I wish to cycle with a lot of traffic congestion.

Unless you decide to demolish some historic quarters to make room for parking lots and wider streets...

^^ Electric cars will solve the problem of pollution at point-of-use.

Unfortunately, most Italian cities were too poor when the early 19th century large-scale renovations happened in places like Berlin, Paris or Madrid. Fortunately, war destruction was less than that of other countries, however in absence of tragic war destruction they didn't muster the resources and political willingness for getting rid of old buildings when there was more social appetite and a favorable view of a modernist future for removing some of them. Genova is a good case of that: parts of the old town are outright unhealthy with extremely narrow allows that don't allow sunlight on the lower floors, it would have been a nice place if they had just demolished the port workers' quarters in the late 1940s but it only got the Sopraelevata.

Example:

(C) Comune di Genova
I'm not gonna discuss why it's bad to demolish the entire medieval city centre of Genova. I see that some areas of it are unhealthy and have a bad reputation, but it's not only due to poor lighting and narrow streets. Venice has the same kind of streets but it's totally safe and healthy :)

Furthermore, Milan has both had 19th century renewal (Piazza Cordusio is an example) and 30s to 60s demolition schemes (Piazza San Babila is an example). However, the latter demolitions were not completed and only half of the proposed boulevard was built (I'm talking about Corso Europa, Via Larga and Via Albricci, ending in Piazza Missori).

If you don't know these places, here's some street view of the 30s to 60s demolitions:

Piazza San Babila http://goo.gl/maps/c8KRW
International-style Corso Europa: http://goo.gl/maps/2nxLc
Via Larga ("Wide Street") http://goo.gl/maps/AYV0O
Via Albricci http://goo.gl/maps/ddLTY
Piazza Missori, where the boulevard ends. Saint Alexander's college was saved from demolition: http://goo.gl/maps/fjtcO

This is only one of the examples of modernist renewals of Milan's city centre. They're interesting but they also meant a huge loss of historical heritage.

Bologna for instance has a particularly outrageous ZTL system where, if you don't live there, you can't possible drive to the most central areas, payment or no payment.
I think you're confusing Bologna with another city :)
Bologna's centre is accessible for a maximum of 3 or 4 days a month by non-residents, after paying 5 euro each day. The only non-accessible streets are the T area (Via Rizzoli, via Ugo Bassi and Via Indipendenza), but you can drive to perpendicular streets which have become dead-end.

Most ZTL allow you to buy a special permit at their office, in case you need it.

I don't oppose pedestrianization of small areas (coupled with extensive underground parking facilities nearby), or even some tolls that apply to everyone, and whose proceeds are used exclusively to fund car facilities.
Parking facilities nearby is usually accomplished by park+ride facilities or parkings outside the centre (some 15 minutes walk), due to lack of space inside the city. Income of tolls usually funds the higher need for public transport after pedestrianisation.
The ZTLs are hideous in that they create privileges for people who live in an area, excluding everything else.
I think they're somehow more democratic than congestion charges, as rich and poor people receive the same treatment and can't just "buy" the privilege to enter the city by car.
 

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I don't like to walk in an environment dominated by cars, and I'm totally impaired if I wish to cycle with a lot of traffic congestion.
I'm in favor or good sidewalks (contrary to those of Milan, for instance, which are mostly asphalt which burns like hell in summer)

I'm not gonna discuss why it's bad to demolish the entire medieval city centre of Genova. I see that some areas of it are unhealthy and have a bad reputation, but it's not only due to poor lighting and narrow streets.
Well, there are bad demographics and a bunch of 'agigators' who moved there.

In any case, my solution to the centro storico there is like demolish half of the buildings (scattered around the place), and turn them into plazas, so that the remaining half has sunlight and then streets can be made wider :)

Venice has the same kind of streets but it's totally safe and healthy :)
But it is a place whose only future is being a touristic destination. A very neat and unique one, but not exactly a place where ordinary life is thriving as the city is losing population (except Mestre and Lido)

Furthermore, Milan has both had 19th century renewal (Piazza Cordusio is an example) and 30s to 60s demolition schemes (Piazza San Babila is an example).
I'm familiar since I lived there. But when I lived there, instead of Area C there was Ecopass. At least Ecopass was free for newer cars.

But Milan is a good example about pedestrianized streets: it has some pedestrianized areas and others that even I think should be (Brera, via Montenapoleone, via Bigli and some more). There are also many car parking facilities nearby.

It is, though, a bad example about the "corsia reservata" abuse, too many bus-only lanes that should be opened for regular car traffic.


Most ZTL allow you to buy a special permit at their office, in case you need it.
But this is not practical if you are a casual visitor from other city who just wants to park on a central area and then leave. Also, the rules are overly complicated, you need to check obscure comune websites for rules, and then apply for special permits (or rely that your hotel will fill a form instead of forgetting it).

The whole ZTL charade has made the historical centers of Italian cities the most car-unfriendly of the whole Western Europe. The topography and street layout already don't help, and then there are all those complicated rules decided at the local level.
 

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^^ Electric cars will solve the problem of pollution at point-of-use.
Let's wait and see for electric cars to become widespread.

Unfortunately, most Italian cities were too poor when the early 19th century large-scale renovations happened in places like Berlin, Paris or Madrid.
Nor at that age they were growing so fast they needed the be thoroughly renovated (i.e. Razed down and rebuilt from scratch).
Fortunately, war destruction was less than that of other countries, however in absence of tragic war destruction they didn't muster the resources and political willingness for getting rid of old buildings when there was more social appetite and a favorable view of a modernist future for removing some of them.
Thank God.

Where a modernist approach was planned and implemented, like in the famed 'Racchetta' in Milan, the outcome proved dismal.

However you know for sure that in Genoa about half of the carrugi (or narrow lanes) were demolished in the last two centuries in order to raise new quarters like Porta Principe Railway station, Via Venti Settembre, Piazza Dante, Portoria.

Genova is a good case of that: parts of the old town are outright unhealthy with extremely narrow allows that don't allow sunlight on the lower floors, it would have been a nice place if they had just demolished the port workers' quarters in the late 1940s but it only got the Sopraelevata.
And Sopraelevata will soon be replaced by an underport tunnel -hopefully.

It's just modern amenities who made it possible to live in those narrow streets in such a comfortable way same as in newbuilt homes.
Moreover the absence of cars help socialising and keeping stronger ties.
 

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Unità
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you Galro! :)

I'd like to add a tiny detail about two iron handrails leading to the underground utility rooms of Cinema Apollo.

The old and rusty handrails were changed to these new ones, made of wrought iron, with the name of the cinema on top.

New gate:



Before:



All these pictures, including the ones from the previous post, come from UrbanFile. You can find some other pictures in the following links:

http://blog.urbanfile.org/2014/02/03/zona-san-babila-piazza-liberty-le-nuove-ringhiere/

http://blog.urbanfile.org/2014/03/10/zona-san-babila-piazza-liberty-progressi-a-marzo/
 

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Unità
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Milan - Brera

Brera is one of the prettiest and most preserved historical quarters of Milan.
It's famous for its narrow streets and atmosphere, which remind the old city, and for the fortune tellers who put their table on the street and read tarot cards to people.

One of the most important streets are Via Brera, which takes its name from 17th century Brera Palace, one of the most important Italian art galleries also featuring an astronomical observatory, a botanical garden and the Academy.
The other two important streets are Via Fiori Chiari and Via Fiori Oscuri (Light/Clear Flowers and Dark Flowers), which might have taken their name from a female charitative college located in Via Fiori Chiari, and a brothel in Via Fiori Oscuri :nuts:

Here's a map, showing in green the already pedestrian areas, and yellow for the recently pedestrianized streets.



The following pictures show the streetscape before (left, year 2008) and after pedestrianisation (right, year 2014). The pavement was changed in Via Fiori Oscuri and renovated in Via Brera.

Via Fiori Oscuri and the corner with via Brera on the background:



Same place but in the opposite direction, looking towards via Borgospesso:



Beginning of Via Fiori Oscuri, as seen from Via Borgospesso:



Here the difference is huge! Via Brera looking towards south from the crossing with Via Fiori Chiari and Via Fiori Oscuri.
Brera palace was under renovation in 2008, and the Rationalist building on the right was then refurbished too, with the addition of red windows.
There's a taxi in the same place, in both pictures :lol:



Same place but seen from forward, and looking back



Looking south towards the end of the pedestrian area. A few cars continue parking in the pedestrian area :eek:hno: but the difference is huge anyway!



On the left from the previous picture, there's Piazzetta Brera. No before-after picture, as Streetview has been updated to after the pedestrianisation.



This is the last pedestrian part of Via Brera. The pedestrian area ends at the bottom of the picture, just behind the red car on the right.
As you can see, a lot of cars park in the pedestrian area and they're "tolerated" :eek:hno:

 

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That's really nice. Do you know if there are plans to continue to pedestrianization down Via Giuseppe Verdi all the way down to Piazza della Scala?
 

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Italian jeweller and luxury goods manufacturer Bulgari has pledged 1.5 million euros for the restoration of Rome's iconic Spanish Steps, mayor Ignazio Marino announced Thursday. The donation is intended as a "special tribute" to the Eternal City on the 130th anniversary of the company which has its flagship store just a few steps from the elegant stairway leading from Piazza di Spagna to the church of Trinità dei Monti above. The funds will be made available in three tranches, the first expected before the end of March, Marino said. Restoration is due to begin within a year. "Restoring the steps in their beauty is not just for Romans but to the whole world," the mayor said.


Roma Piazza di Spagna di congiuluc, su Flickr
 

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Continues Milan's transformation: a city more friendly and suitable for pedestrians and cyclists.

These two new projects represent an additional and important element. First project is located in an area between Porta Venezia and Piazza San Babila, and is divided into two parts. Between Via Palestro and Via Senate, will be carried out two one-way bike paths, extend to the existing one, affecting road and a marginal portion of the pavement. From Via Senato to Piazza San Babila, will be created a Zone 30, with a widening of sidewalks, that will be completely redone with new flooring slabs (gray Beola). The project ensures the preservation of parking areas. The second project concerns creation of a Zone 30 in Viale Romagna, which will dedicated primarily to pedestrians and cyclists. And some parts of the sidewalks will be widened to slow the speed of vehicles. Then there will be green areas to improving pedestrian accessibility. Finally, it is planned the construction of two bicycle lanes (one on each side) in Piazzale Susa. These projects, together with another approved project for Viale Tunisia, are part of a pattern of re-stitching of walking and cycling routes.


red = new
orange = available

 
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I'm okay with better and wider sidewalks, but cycling is not an activity that suits Italian big cities. Let's leave it to country/mountain cycling :)
 

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I'm okay with better and wider sidewalks, but cycling is not an activity that suits Italian big cities. Let's leave it to country/mountain cycling :)
Many of them would be actually pretty easy to cycle. Milan is flat, and its centre would be perfectly suited. The same applies to all those cities without many hills.
 
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