‘Candlelit Dinner’ vs. ‘Frozen-Food Aisle’: Streetlights Put Romans in a Dark Mood

At the very least, it has not pleased all the residents of the Eternal City, who are apt to eternally complain. They say they have suffered enough indignity, decay and decline in recent years because of corruption and lack of services. Now, when they are finally presented with a change to try to improve the city, they find it is no improvement at all.

The decision to change the city’s lighting predates the tenure of the mayor, Virginia Raggi, who has had enough troubles on her hands. Nevertheless, since she took office in June, about 100,000 LED lamps have been installed, just over half the number that will be swapped out in the change, costing 48 million euros, or about $52 million, that is expected to save the city millions in electricity bills.

If nothing else, the new bulbs have lit up social media, where the illumination has been compared to that in a hospital, a morgue or a cemetery.

The old lights and the new ones are a “candlelit dinner versus the frozen-food aisle of your local grocery store,” Elizabeth Minchilli, an American resident of the central neighborhood of Monti, wrote on Facebook.

Not everyone is bothered, and to some, the switch is more smoke than light. “It’s how you live the city, not the lighting, that makes it romantic,” said Cosimo Barnaba, the salon manager of a hipster-friendly hairdresser just off the main square in Monti.

Mr. Barnaba said the benefits of the new lighting — the lower environmental impact and cost savings — outweighed the polemics. “Rome is always beautiful, even with a white light,” he said.

But Ms. Naim and many other residents are not convinced. Ms. Naim has become a central figure in a drive to reverse the decision, petitioning City Hall, and demanding documentation from the municipal electricity utility, ACEA, to better understand how…

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