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  • I live about 25 km far from Milan, in a nice part of Brianza. Every day I commute by car. Especially in the morning, until a few months ago the drive could easily turn out to be a nightmare: too many cars, long queues, accidents. I had to leave before 7am to be sure I would be arriving by 8:30. Even ten or fifteen minutes of delay in leaving my house, and I could find myself stuck on the highway.

    Then, almost suddenly, at the beginning of this year things have changed. Now I can even leave at 7:30 (the worst time possible) and I usually arrive at work by 8:15: the traffic has dramatically decreased. What happened?

    I think it is the combined effect of two different situations.

    First, the town council of Milan has introduced a congestion charge that any car willing to enter downtown Milan has to pay. Even if the area affected by this initiative includes only the very central part of the town, still the effect is visible all around Milan. Evidently, many people now use public transportations to avoid the payment of the fee.

    Seconds, and probably most important, the price of gas has almost reached 2 Euros per liter, an unprecedented record. Many people in this period of crisis cannot afford this cost. Or simply, they have other priorities and have decided to save on gas.

    This is sad, as this change in behavior dramatically visualizes the depth and severity of the crisis we are experimenting. The crisis is real, felt by large parts of the population, affecting many families and workers, the lives of so many people.

    Still, this is also a wake-up call for our society, a strong invitation to change our attitude in many different areas. We need to renovate our living style, the approach we have in using natural resources, the attitude we adopt in the social and political life of the country. Italy needs to change in so many aspects. Maybe, we really needed a strong call to action, a signal able to visualize and represent the limits of our society and of the choices (or non-choices) we have made in the past decades.

    It is sad. And it will be tough to change and recover. But certainly, in the end it will be good.
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