Say ‘arrivederci’ to cars in Florence’s Piazza Duomo

It’s a given — any visit to the main piazza in Florence means being among a crowd. But thanks to a decision by the city’s mayor Matteo Renzi, visitors will soon get a little breather (literally and figuratively).

Starting October 25, cars, buses, and even horse-drawn carriages will be banned from the popular nucleus of activity near the Duomo and Baptistry.

The reason is to reduce the carbon monoxide (2.6 tons) and fine particulate (450 kilos) in the area — bad for both lungs and the walls of the light-colored cathedral. The number of buses making rounds daily through the area will be reduced by 500 — from 2,740 to 2,200.

The people least likely to celebrate the change? Taxi drivers, of course. That just means more space for you and I to dance for joy at the celebratory open-air concert on October 25th.

And if the mayor’s decision just happens to extend the length of space available for a good stroll — the lovely passegiata — I say ‘grazie’ to that.

Times Square turning pedestrian

If Times Square experiences traffic jams now, just wait ’til late May when the streets around the Square will be bumper-to-bumper and the sidewalks along Broadway will be filled with — not cars — but feet, and (not to mention) a lot of construction.

I know, it may be the hardest thing to imagine, but starting this Memorial Day through the end of the year, the streets surrounding New York City’s most crowded thoroughfare will be converted into a strictly pedestrian walkway.

The $1.5 million (that’s it?) project will provide green landscaping, tables and benches between 42nd and 47th streets. Currently, the number of pedestrians quadruple the number of cars in Times Square. Roughly 350,000 people pass through per day, which pretty much explains why it has one of the highest injury and death rates in Manhattan. That rate will certainly be curbed with the newer, greener look to the square.

Nearly 50 million tourists paid a visit to Times Square last year alone. With a friendlier and less dangerous feel, I imagine that number could very well increase come the new year of 2010. There will be something worth celebrating in Times Square indeed.

[via USA Today]