AP PHOTOS: Sights of Rome include monumental eyesores

ROME (AP) — Rome's monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with the Italian capital's glories, including the Colosseum.

Associated Press photographers recently trained their cameras on some of the eyesores. With City Hall administrations often mired in scandal, Romans over the last few years have started trying to fix the mess themselves.

Pie' di Marmo, a giant marble foot dating back to the 1st century, rests on a pedestal in a narrow alleyway named for it. But the backdrop to its splendor is a collection of scribbled graffiti, and someone, perhaps heedless to the relic's proud history, left behind a soggy plastic bag in front of it.

The Colosseum is a universally recognized symbol of Roman civilization, so there's no mistaking that. But people have plastered over a road sign leading to it with stickers.

19 PHOTOS
Rome's garbage and graffiti problem
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Rome's garbage and graffiti problem
A trash collector puts his hand to his head as he looks at the accumulated garbage, in Rome, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A street sign on a road leading to the ancient Colosseum is covered in stickers, in Rome, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A woman walks past a street name sign scribbled in writings, in Rome, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A woman leafs through a book she picked up from the accumulated garbage, in Rome, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
People sit on the Tiber river banks covered in fallen leaves and overgrown grass, backdropped by graffiti filled walls, in Rome, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A column is covered by graffiti in Rome's central Via Giulia, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A face-in-hole effigy of the famed movie "Roman Holidays" displaying Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn riding a Vespa scooter in front of the Colosseum is backdropped by a rundown wall, in downtown Rome, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
People walk past a church wall covered with graffiti in Rome, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A tourist information board is scribbled in graffiti as it overlooks the Tiber River and St. Peter's Dome, in downtown Rome, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A boat which was washed up eight years ago from the Tiber River in an exceptionally high water after a heavy rainfall lies on the river bank, near Prati's elegant neighborhood, in Rome, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Dismantled bicycles belonging to a bike-sharing company lie abandoned in a graffiti and poster covered alleyway in Rome's Trastevere historical neighborhood, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A man pushes a stroller in front of garbage bins rife with trash, in Rome, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A child plays in front of a closed rundown playground in Rome's Magliana neighborhood, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A man walks past a bin overflowing with uncollected trash at Colle Oppio park facing the ancient Colosseum, in Rome, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A woman makes her way across a sidewalk covered with uncollected garbage, in Rome, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Recreational equipment is sealed off in a playground in Rome, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A tourist guide indicates to her group the monument of Pie’ di Marmo, a giant marble foot dating back to the 1st century, in an alleyway in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A manhole is clogged by leaves and plastic causing a giant puddle partially flooding a street as a man on the other side of the road tries to sweep away more leaves, in Rome, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
People walk past garbage abbandoned on a sidwalk, in Rome, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. Rome’s monumental problems of garbage and decay exist side-by-side with Eternal City’s glories. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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So much garbage piles up around overflowing trash bins on city streets — even near the pristine paths inside Vatican City — that even the trash collectors, when they do show up, seem overwhelmed.

A man pushes his child in a stroller in the street, because the sidewalk has been swallowed up by uncollected trash left by Romans exasperated by often infrequent garbage collection.

Unpruned plants and towering weeds rule the day in playgrounds. Grass sprouts up around Rome's iconic cobblestones.

Even after a few minutes of heavy rain, uncleaned drains and sewers overflow, making intersections impassable, and sending sewage floating down neighborhood streets.

Rome is nicknamed the Eternal City, and recent years have increasingly seen its glory soiled by seemingly ever-present problems of urban decay.

While many other urban capitals grapple with graffiti and citizen services that could use efficiency improvements, Rome also pays the price of decades of City Hall mismanagement and corruption. Trash even became in an issue in Italy's general election earlier this year.

But Romans have started saying "basta" (enough) to shrugging shoulders and overall indifference. Citizens' groups with catchy names like Retake Rome scrub off graffiti in their neighborhoods on Sunday mornings. Romans have also started signaling dangerous potholes to organizations like Tappami ("Fill me up" in Italian), which, armed with asphalt and shovels, fan out across the city to patch up neighborhood streets.

Recently, several thousand fed-up Romans gathered beneath the office of Mayor Virginia Raggi, the first mayor for the Italian populist 5-Star Movement, which had vowed to do away with old-school City Hall politics.

Reduced so low by such widespread decay, Romans are starting to come to grips with the meaning of civic duty.

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