ITALY: Befana Calls on the Cops

Besides making the trains run on time, Mussolini also made Rome's turbulent traffic run smoothly. He prohibited the Roman pedestrian's custom of reading newspapers in the middle of the street. Once, interrupted in his meditations by a horn insistently honking in the Piazza Venezia below, Mussolini shouted an order that all "acoustic signaling" be forthwith prohibited in Rome. Romans whispered sadly that their "city of noise" had become the città del silenzio.

After Fascism's fall, the horns honked again triumphantly. Jaywalking became an assertion of individual liberty. Then, last year, to show that freedom is not license, the police clamped down.


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