Vicenza is taking the unusual step of restricting traffic in its downtown area for one week in an attempt to cut down on air pollution in the northern Italy city.

Air pollution is worst in the first three months of the year because of changing weather patterns and increased emissions from home heating systems.

Communities are mandated by Italian law to take steps when there’s too much smog, and those steps often involve limiting car traffic. Vicenza — a city of about 115,000 that’s home to the Southern European Task Force (Airborne) and a community of about 7,000 Americans — has decided that from Wednesday until Feb. 8 only emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses can drive in the older part of the city.

The restrictions don’t include places such as Caserma Ederle or any other installations with Americans on them, but Americans who live, shop or eat in the downtown area will be affected.

The city’s mayor, Enrico Hüllweck, has vowed in local papers that he will be walking to work as well. According to a report by Agence France-Presse, residents have also been told to keep their thermostats at 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) during the period to reduce furnace emissions.

Vicenza had already decided to restrict driving in the downtown area on Thursdays and Fridays through the end of March.

The city is far from alone in trying to combat pollution by limiting cars. Milan, Florence, Venice, Verona, Turin and just about every other city of any size in the north of the country has some kind of restriction in place limiting traffic.

In past years, some cities have restricted traffic by license plate, allowing those with even numbers on even days and odd numbers on odd days.

Others, such as Milan, prohibit all traffic on certain days of the week, such as Sundays.

Those staying at hotels in the affected areas are still generally allowed to park their vehicles where they’re staying. But drivers of all nationalities might not get to drive where they want to, depending on local circumstances.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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