Rome bans 'centurions' for safety reasons

ROME • Rome has banned centurion impersonators who charge to scowl in photos around the ancient Colosseum amphitheatre and frequently come under fire for their pushy tactics with tourists.

It is imposing extra security measures and sprucing up parks and piazzas as it gears up to host a Catholic Holy Year, or "Jubilee", that could draw millions of tourists.

City Hall said the Roman "soldiers", many of whom hail from the poorer periphery and commute for hours to the historic centre, pose risks both to people's safety and the "respectability" of the Italian capital's numerous monuments.

"These individuals often act inappropriately, they are persistent and at times aggressive," it said.

Offering rides in rickshaws and other wheeled vehicles has also been forbidden in some parts of town, and roving salesmen are not allowed to peddle tours or museum tickets.

All of these money-making schemes could be dangerous in areas likely to get crowded when the Jubilee, one of the Catholic Church's most important events, starts on Dec 8, City Hall said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'Rome bans 'centurions' for safety reasons'. Print Edition | Subscribe