Poetic Justice (feat. Drake)
Tom Kington in Rome, Tuesday 11th September 2012 15:36
Thousands of "love padlocks" fixed to an ancient Roman bridge by passionate couples have been sliced off with bolt cutters and dumped in a warehouse to save the bridge from damage.
Teenage lovers in Rome have for years written their initials on padlocks, locked them to Rome's Milvian bridge and sworn eternal love for each other before hurling the key into the Tiber, a habit that has caught on at bridges around the world, particularly in Paris.
The trend, which was inspired by characters in the 2006 cult Italian teen novel I Want You by Federico Moccia, first prompted Roman officials to set up posts for the padlocks to be attached to after a lamppost threatened to collapse under their weight on the bridge, which was first built in 206 BC.
But this week officials said enough was enough. "We decided to remove them to restore decorum to the bridge," said local borough president Gianni Giacomini.
Since the trend took off, the residential neighbourhood has become a hub of late-night bars and on Monday police arrested 17 people suspected of supplying methamphetamine to revellers. City officials said that 86% of locals were keen to see the locks go. They promised to give the mass of metal that has been removed a place in a Rome museum and said they would designate a spot in a piazza beside the bridge where locks could be left in future.
"The bridge will be guarded day and night to stop more locks being attached," warned local public works assessor Stefano Erbaggi.
Moccia, who has said teenagers are better off buying padlocks than scrawling graffiti, was nonplussed. "The removal of the locks is inconsiderate," he told La Repubblica. "Rome is handing Paris the 'bridge of love' tradition, which was born here and should stay here."