Rome is on top of so many people’s bucket lists, so it’s no surprise that the city is making adjustments to make it a little easier to get around. And sometimes moves like that take away some of the charms the city has to offer… like Rome’s romantic cobblestone streets.
Cobblestone is really beautiful to look at, a pain to walk on, and a nightmare to ride a bike on. Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi announced last week that 70 streets in central Rome will be replaced with asphalt to make them more accessible to cars, scooters, and cyclists. It’s bittersweet in that getting around by bike on a sunny day in Rome sounds like a dream, but it is a dream that will lack the iconic cobblestone that city is known for. According to Lonely Planet, some of these stones date back centuries.
But they won’t be gone forever; the city reports that each cobblestone that’s removed will be incorporated on a quieter, less-traveled street. In an interview with Lonely Planet, Rome city council member Roberto Botta shared: “For every cobblestone that we remove from one road, we will be re-laying them in another.”
The stones have become increasingly dislodged as more cars and trucks have rumbled by on top of them. It’s recently become enough of a safety hazard that it’s keeping vehicles and bikes from using the streets. Locally, the cobblestones are referred to as “sanpietrini,” which is a nod to St Peter (San Pietro) given that the first place cobblestone were laid in Rome was in St Peter’s Square in the 16th-century. According to The Telegraph, all of the rock that makes these stones are sourced from the volcanic soil of the nearby Alban Hills.
There’s no set date on when the rocks will be fully removed, but the construction is set to kick off later this year. If you want to see these cobblestones in their original home and state, you’d better plan a trip soon.