Cars and Pizza Ovens Targeted as Italy Combats Air Pollution

Rome traffic

Police patrols Rome to limit vehicles from entering the city center. Photographer: Andrea Ronchini/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • Rome, Milan take contrasting measures as alert levels breached
  • Wood-fired pizza ovens prohibited by town near Naples

Rome and Milan have imposed bans on cars starting Monday, with one small town near Naples prohibiting wood-fired pizza ovens, as Italian authorities seek to combat air-pollution that has breached alert levels in an exceptionally warm and dry winter.

In the business capital of Milan, where daisies have flowered in a public park, cars will be forbidden for six hours a day from Monday to Wednesday. On Christmas Day, air-pollution alert levels were breached for the 31st day in a row in the city, where it has not rained for the past 50 days.

In Milan, Rome and Turin, authorities sought to encourage travelers to use public transportation by making a single ticket valid for a whole day. In Milan, authorities may ban firework celebrations on New Year’s Eve, Corriere della Sera reported.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-euro and anti-immigrant Northern League party, dismissed Milan’s ban on cars, saying on his Facebook page it “doesn’t solve the problems of the air (which is disgusting), but bothers only those who would want to work.”

In Rome, where mimosas flowered unseasonally, cars with odd-numbered license plates will be banned for nine hours on Monday, while cars with even-numbered plates will be banned for the same period on Tuesday. Environmentalists said the measure was insufficient as it still allows 1.3 million cars to take to the roads.

Across Italy, authorities are resorting to a variety of measures. In the town of San Vitaliano, near Naples, the mayor has decreed a three-month prohibition on cooking pizzas in wood-fired ovens after air-pollution alert levels were breached regularly over the past six months, La Stampa reported.

In Lucca in Tuscany, as in Terni in central Italy and in Rovigo in the north, authorities won’t allow traditional New Year and Epiphany bonfires made of wood and shrubs.

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