Decaying Rome 'on Verge of Collapse'
Ancient city plagued by alleged corruption, garbage, rats
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2015 9:00 AM CDT
Updated Jul 19, 2015 7:35 AM CDT
In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 file photo tourists walk outside Rome's Colosseum.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Files)

(Newser) – Rome wasn't built in a day, and thousands of years later, the city of 2.8 million remains home to some of the world's most remarkable fountains, museums, and churches. But it's also "dirty and disorganized," reports Reuters. Untamed grass and graffiti can be spotted on city streets and buildings, while a rat infestation reportedly plagues the city center. A bed and breakfast owner says some of the city's 10.61 million tourists last year complained "the metros never arrive on time, the stations are full of pickpockets, the streets are full of rubbish," she says. "Instead of getting better, the situation is getting worse." In fact, the city "is on the verge of collapse," says the Chamber of Commerce president. "It is unacceptable that a major city which calls itself developed can find itself in such a state of decay."

The city is $15.5 billion in debt, with suggestions that mobsters have drained millions from contracts. Allegations of corruption afflict current and former administrations. Mayor Ignazio Marino hasn’t been associated with the claims, but some of his staff members have, and several recently resigned. Marino, himself, admits much of the administration was "substantially rotten." But the best example of disorder is perhaps Rome's Fiumicino airport, the largest in Italy, which has been partially closed since a fire May 7. It affected just part of one terminal, but the site was sealed off for weeks for air quality tests over fears of pollutants, meaning damaged material couldn’t be removed. Today, the odor of burnt plastic remains, while 40% of all flights are canceled each day. Says the Chamber of Commerce chief, "We need a miracle from the lord above for Rome to emerge in good shape."