After snapping up Italian tire maker Pirelli’s know-how and technology, China’s shopping spree in Italy continues. Indeed, details emerged today that China is to take over the management of Italy’s capital Rome.
Italy’s cash strapped capital is to hand over the administration of the eternal city to China-Italia Holdings, a holding company recently set up for this specific purpose, in the Autumn of 2015.
In a written statement, Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi welcomed the deal, saying that it would be good for the future of the nation’s capital and for Italy itself. “It’ll mean that Italy’s taxpayers won’t have to bail out Rome”, he added.
Mr. Dung Pei, China’s ambassador to Italy, addressing a meeting of Rome business leaders yesterday stated that the Chinese-run holding company would begin the process of taking over the management of Italy’s capital shortly and added that Rome’s public transportation company, ATAC, is also to be placed into Chinese hands.
Five Year Plan
Initially, China is to pump €11 billion into Italy’s capital as part of a 5 year plan to rejuvenate the city. Chinese investors are to provide funding for the completion of the restoration of both the Coliseum and the Trevi fountains.
Bilingual Chinese Italian Street Signs
Part of the project includes the translation of Street signs in the eternal city into in Chinese. The first bilingual street Italian-Chinese signs will start appearing later this year and students at Beijing’s international university are said to have already begun the mammoth task of translating Rome’s street signs into Chinese. Restaurants in Rome will also be required to offer menus in Italian and Mandarin Chinese.
Italy’s education minister said in a statement that French, German and Spanish classes in Rome schools would be replaced by Chinese from 2016 onwards.
Rome Resident’s Sweet and Sour Reaction
Reactions of Rome’s residents to the Chinese take over of their city have been mixed.
Franco Truffa, the owner of city center restaurant Quanto Sei Bella Roma, welcomed the news and said he expected he would be catering for many more Chinese visitors who, he added, have a penchant for lasagne, Barolo, and grappa. Mr Truffa has already begun arranging Chinese courses for his staff.
Another Rome resident, Maria Sconsolata, who runs a cafe close to the Spanish Steps is not so content. “The Chinese take over will ruin the character of Rome – we’ll all end up having to speak Chinese. I’ve no idea how to say Coliseum in Chinese.”, commented Ms Sconsolata.
Talks Shrouded in Secrecy
Negotiations surrounding the take-over deal have been kept secret and only last week, shortly after the purchase of a controlling interest in Italian tyre maker and calendar producer Pirelli, did rumors of the Rome deal begin appearing in Italy’s press.
Next On China’s Italy Menu
After Rome, Chinese eyes are said to be looking at other Italian cities. Officials in Venice, Naples, and Florence are said to be in talks with the Chinese. Ambassador Pei quipped that his wife enjoyed shopping in Milan thus hinting that Italy’s northern capital may also be on China’s Italian city take-over menu.
More information on the Rome management deal can be found in this Italian government press release: Administration of Rome to be Outsourced to China.