No Cars In Perugia! The City Without Cars


I was on the Nat Geo website when I came across this article. I decided to post it here to inspire us all, how we can do our bit to conserve energy and reduce pollution.  My mum used to teach us when we were kids on how to conserve and save. That is when I first heard the phrase: “Penny saved is penny earned”. It quite applies in this case, because we are rapidly losing our natural resources and the only way we can earn these resources are by saving them.

In the US and in India, gas/petrol prices are ridiculously high. There’s another reason for us to think of new ways to conserve our resources. And you know what, saving can actually turn out to be fun. Use your creativity to come with ways to conserve.

For ex:

  1. Carpooling with friends and/or colleagues can be fun because you get to bond with them, exchange useful information, talk work, etc..
  2. Biking to places which are close enough, like going to the grocery store, laundromat, visiting a friend’s house. That way you can enjoy some air, work those legs, enjoy the ride. That way you can save a trip to the gym and use that free time to do some other fun stuff 🙂
  3. Take public transport when possible. Enjoy the scenery from the little window. Observe the diversity of people on board. Make a new friend on the train maybe?

Here’s the NatGeo article:

Photo of Minimetro in Perugia. (Photo Courtesy: NatGeo website)

Perugia is the capital of the Umbria region, known as the “Green Heart of Italy”. It is very close to Rome.

It’s 7 p.m., and the evening passeggiata (a cross between a walk and a parade) in Perugia (map) is in full swing. All the Italian clichés apply: strolling teenagers eating gelato, married couples pushing strollers and greeting friends. Professors—this is a university city—amble up and down the Corso Vannucci greeting each other and arguing politics.

The conversations—whether they are giddy, loving or heated—echo with remarkable clarity off the surrounding medieval stone facades, undisturbed by the sound of internal combustion or diesel engines.

The Corso, the main drag of the Umbria region’s capital city, styles itself as Perugia’s living room rather than as a thoroughfare for motorists. So as the setting sun turns the buildings amber, tourists and tired office workers jockey for café seats or wander in and out of shops without the worries about parking or vehicle tie-ups that are endemic to so many of the world’s cities.

There is simply no traffic.

It wasn’t always like this. Not long ago, Corso Vannucci and surrounding streets were thronged with cars, trucks, and buses instead of pedestrians. The buildings were encrusted with soot, instead of shining pink and proud. Traffic clogged the narrow streets, and Perugia’s residents wondered how their smart little city became such an urban nightmare.

As cities around the world grapple with issues of traffic and congestion that degrade the quality of urban life, it is worth taking a look at how Perugia turned its story around.

Although it is hardly the only European city to put strict limits on motor traffic (Venice to the north boasts it is the world’s largest car-free city), Perugia shows how even a small city can reap benefits from investment in pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. All it took was a succession of progressive-minded city officials, urban planners, and resident-dreamers who saw how Perugia’s geographic and historical preservation challenges could be used to its advantage.

The Dig for a New Future

It all started, incredibly enough, in the early 1980s, with a few escalators.

City archeologists had unearthed the subterranean streets of a former patrician neighborhood under a park that was built far below Perugia’s urban core. The city developed a lower town to showcase this district that had been covered over since the 16th century. To connect the lower town to Perugia’s center, which stands on a 490-meter (1,600-foot) rock promontory, the city built a series of escalators. At the base, the urban planners added a multilevel parking garage and bus station that looks like a subway station minus the trains. And vehicles other than delivery vans and taxis were banned from the Corso Vannucci.

More escalator-parking lot locations were soon built, followed by a “Zona di traffico limitato” (ZTL), or limited traffic zone. Car travel or parking in downtown requires a permit. Cameras snap license plates, and hefty fines are levied on those who venture into the city by motor vehicle without a permit.

“This is Perugia,” said Mayor Wladimiro Boccali. “In a city like ours, with its wealth of art and history, we had to do something original. The minimetro is more than public transport. It’s architecture, technology, design.”

The entire article is available on the NatGeo website:

via With a Deep Dig Into Its Past, Perugia Built an Energy-Saving Future.

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About One Change At A Time

Me - I just want to spread goodness and happiness... one good deed at a time.
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2 Responses to No Cars In Perugia! The City Without Cars

  1. Hanna says:

    Ooops… they missed number 4:
    Walking.
    🙂
    This I love to do 🙂

  2. Good idea about walking/car pooling/cycling/public transport. You can save fuel and have fun at the same time! 🙂

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