What Fate Roman Stones?
The sampietrini, or “little stones of St. Peter’s,” are easily displaced, creating large potholes in the streets. Laying and repairing the stones is both an expensive and labor-intensive process, and the number of people trained to do so is rapidly diminishing, as well as the availability of the cobblestones themselves. Even more serious is the effect that the vibrations created by motor traffic passing over the stones have on the surrounding palaces, cathedrals, and monuments.
Maurizio Galletti, an official at Italy’s Ministry of Culture who is responsible for Rome's architectural heritage, said the vibrations had actually caused some small fissures in the frescoes of Rome’s grand Renaissance palaces. So Rome may be moving more toward the 21st century, but fear not, this tradition is not lost—the picturesque stones of Piazza Venezia, the large square in the heart of Rome, will be left in place. -- Cailin Birch
(Photo of Via Appia Antica courtesy of the Italian Tourist Board.)