Sampietrini

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Sampietrini.jpg
Examples of Sampietrini pavement

Sampietrini (also Sanpietrini) is the typical kind of pavement found in the centre of Rome, Italy. It is made of bevelled stones of black basalt ("sampietrini"), placed one next to the other. It was invented under Pope Sixtus V and was used to pave all the main streets of Rome, because it was superior to other forms of paving in terms of the transit of carriages.

Its good points are:

  • it does not completely cover the ground, leaving small spaces for the water to pass through
  • it easily adapts to the irregularities of the ground
  • it is very strong
  • after it has been placed, it can resist quite big movements of the ground

Its negative points are:

  • the ground becomes irregular over time
  • if wet, it can become very slippery

Because of its peculiarities, the sampietrini are not suitable for streets where traffic travels at high speed. Nowadays its use is largely confined to historical or very narrow streets in the centre of Rome (in Trastevere for example), where the traffic is light and slow.

In July 2005 the mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni declared that the Sampietrini pavement was causing several problems: its irregularity could be dangerous for people riding mopeds or any two-wheeled vehicles; moreover big vehicles passing on it are very noisy and cause wide vibrations that can damage the surrounding buildings. Even though it was argued that these problems are caused by inadequate maintenance, Veltroni said that, from now on, the Sampietrini will be removed wherever possible, keeping them only in pedestrianised areas and characteristic streets.

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