Milan simply has too many cars. The city is densely populated, with the majority of its residents living vertically - in blocks of apartments whose inhabitants were never meant to have 1, 2 or even 3 cars per family. When much of modern-day Milan was constructed ( or rather re-built ) in the post-war years, who could ever have imagined that 50 years on the motorcar would have become a cultural necessity, rather than a luxury reserved for the special few? When I look at my street - cars parked on every available pavement space, the grass verge, the zebra crossing... - I wonder where it's all going to end. As a driver myself I am well aware that I am contributing to the problem - actually Luca and I both have our own cars - indispensable during the day when we both travel for work, but which I wish we could fold up and put in our pockets when we get home at night and begin the daily ritual of 5-times-round-the-block-to-find-a-damn-spot.
Perhaps the 'powers that be' could do a little more to get the worst polluters off the roads - I don't know how many times a day I find myself choking in the wake of some rusty old heap which lost its road-worthiness long ago.
Ultimately, whilst I think an initiative such as the congestion charge can work well in a city such as London, which is equipped both financially and culturally, I am not convinced that it will go down so well over here. Aside from the fact that saving the planet doesn't seem to be all that high on many people's agendas, the Italian and his car go together like horse and carriage. I can't imagine the very many young "fighetti" ("cool people") dumping their sports cars and getting the number 54 bus to the Armani Caffè on a Friday night. And when it comes to 'finding a way around the problem', Italians are world experts... We'll see.