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Traffic Cops Return to Rome’s Landmark Piazza

ROME — If, as it’s said, all roads lead to Rome, then they intersect at Piazza Venezia, the downtown hub of the Italian capital, watched over by a traffic officer on a pedestal who choreographs streamlined circulation out of automotive chaos. Those traffic controllers are as much a symbol of the Eternal City as the Colosseum or the Pantheon for many Romans and tourists alike.

That may explain the return this week of the pedestal (plus its traffic cop) after a yearlong hiatus. At the same time, the piazza was being paved set off a media frenzy — even if there was little traffic to direct given the widespread lockdown that began this week to contain an upsurge of coronavirus cases.

“In this difficult period, I think that it was seen as a sign of something returning to normal,” said Fabio Grillo, 53, who, with 16 years under his belt, is the senior member of the team of four or five municipal police officers who direct traffic from the Piazza Venezia pedestal. In rain or sleet, or sweltering through

For as long as anyone can remember, in Rome’s sultry summers, officers have directed traffic from the Piazza Venezia pedestal near the mouth of the Via del Corso, one of Rome’s main streets. And the gestures they make with their white-gloved hands are dutifully memorized by all Italian motorists for their driver’s tests. (Important note: Two hands straight out with palms facing motorists is equivalent to red light).

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