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The Rome metropolitan area covers 5,300 square km and is home to around 4 million inhabitants. Rome’s history spans two and a half thousand years: it was the capital of the Roman Empire and since the 1st century AD has been the seat of the papacy. In 2007, Rome was the 11th most visited city in the world and its historic city centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Following the Second World War, the Rome metropolitan area underwent very rapid urban growth, which was not accompanied by the adequate development of transport infrastructure or by the establishment of a balanced public transport system.

The city has developed along very different lines from those envisioned in the Masterplan approved by the city administration in 1962. At present, one of the most challenging problems arising from this uncontrolled development is the significant imbalance between transport demand and supply, which has resulted in a dramatic modal split in favour of private vehicles. In the last 35 years, the level of motorisation has risen from 0.2 to 0.7 vehicles per capita, with a threefold rise in the number of kilometres travelled by private vehicles due to the increase in average trip length and the number of vehicles on the road (a rise of 650 percent).

During the four-year CIVITAS I project, Rome implemented 19 measures, including the further development of access restrictions, the promotion of public transport and no-motorised modes, the adoption of clean vehicles and fuels, the development of mobility management and the improvement of the transport network through the use of information technology. The measures were aimed at reducing energy consumption, improving air quality, reducing noise levels, increasing accessibility to public transport, reducing the number of private vehicles, and encouraging a modal shift towards sustainable forms of transport.

One of the greatest improvements was the creation of a pedestrian network in the city centre with car-free areas, which reduced pollution levels.