Rome Travel Guide

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Rome's Scaffolds and Cranes

Crane working at the top of the Spanish Steps

Costly scaffolding, Piazza Verbano, quartiere Trieste
Most of the buildings in Rome have a stucco exterior.  It's a durable material, and its insulating, cooling properties make it ideally suited to Rome's sultry summers.  But it deteriorates over time, and when repairs are needed, up goes the scaffolding.  Romans would seem to be expert not only in the art of stuccoing, but in assembling scaffolds; indeed, there's a school in Tor Vergata where students are trained to assemble scaffolds ("impalcature") on which workers can do their jobs in safety. 

More Trieste work
Nonetheless, work once done on scaffolding is increasingly being done without scaffolding--or without much of it.  The competition is from cranes.  As one of our Italian sources explained, companies erecting scaffolds in public space--along a sidewalk in front of a building--pay high fees.  Cranes do their work and leave; no fee to be paid, or only a small one for the limited scaffolding required to protect pedestrians. 

Crane over our terrace

We had first-hand experience of the crane in 2006, when we lived in the quartiere of Appio Latino.  Our apartment was on the ground floor (not the Italian ideal), but it had a lovely terrace; upper floors had only balconies.  Unfortunately, the condominium ("condominio") chose to repair the balconies while we were there.  Had they used scaffolding to do so, it would have covered half our terrace.  Instead, they brought in a crane, which for several weeks hovered over our umbrella, doing its work.


Expensive scaffolding at a corner bar in via Nomentana.  At right, Waldo.

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