Rome, Milan ban cars on roads as smog smothers Italy

 A cyclist riding in Porta Venezia, Milan, Italy, on Dec 28, 2015. Traveling by car will be banned for the next three days as Milan is experiencing smog brought about by the absence of wind and rain.
A cyclist riding in Porta Venezia, Milan, Italy, on Dec 28, 2015. Traveling by car will be banned for the next three days as Milan is experiencing smog brought about by the absence of wind and rain.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
An aerial view of skyscrapers area of Milan, Italy, as it is surrounded by smog on Dec 26, 2015.
An aerial view of skyscrapers area of Milan, Italy, as it is surrounded by smog on Dec 26, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

MILAN (AFP) - Cars were banished on Monday (Dec 28) from the streets of Milan while in Rome every second vehicle was forced off the road as the Italian authorities battled a build-up of smog after a spell of unseasonably dry, calm weather.

In Milan and the nearby town of Pavia, no cars will be allowed onto the roads between 10am and 4pm for three days starting on Monday, while in Rome owners of cars with odd-numbered plates were ordered to leave them at home for the day.

On Tuesday, cars with even-numbered plates will be targeted under an alternate traffic measure used three times this month to try improve air quality in the capital.

Traffic restrictions were also in place in the southern city of Naples, where only vehicles operating to Euro 4 emissions standards or higher are allowed circulate this week.

With most Italians on holiday between Christmas and New Year, the measures were seen as largely symbolic.

"This morning, the streets were deserted but it's not only because of the driving ban. Am I the only person working this Monday?" one Milan resident wrote on Twitter.