NEWS Rome, the Struggle of Urtisti

By Adam SmulevichURTISTI

Many uncertainties still hang on the future of the “urtisti”, the Roman Jewish vendors of souvenirs, who were forced to leave their traditional location in one of the main squares of the city center in July, together with the food trucks, by municipal order.
The mayor, Ignazio Marino, has decided to move them so as to stop the “degradation”, the deterioration of Rome, which has recently been in the spotlight in Italy and all over the world.
The urtisti, about 100 licensed street traders, whose presence dates back to nineteenth century (back then, it was the pope himself who granted them the authorization), are firm in their response: “We are not the cause of the deterioration. On the contrary, we fight against it.”

The situation has created tension between the municipality and the leadership of the Jewish community. As it was reported in the Italian media, the Community expected a different solution and accused the mayor of “betraying the promises he had made.”

A possible solution might be found in September. However, in the meantime the urtisti are struggling to survive and to support their families.

“Since we were moved, our incomes have dropped by 80% on average. The luckiest among my colleagues earn about 15-20 euros per day. I emphasize, the luckiest ones,” the president of urtisti Fabio Gigli told Pagine Ebraiche.

Gigli also explained that the urtisti are planning to organize a public event at the end of August to raise awareness about their fate. “Even if the mayor finds a better solution for us, the summer will be gone and the summer is the peak season for us. This is a social emergency and for us our dignity has been trampled as well,” he concluded.