Mayor to close Rome's ice-cream parlours by 1am in fight against louts

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The Independent Online

In the latest attempt to crack down on violence and thuggery in the Italian capital, Rome's ice-cream parlours are to be obliged to close by 1am.

Other businesses required to haul down the shutters will be pizzerias, bakeries, pastry shops, yogurterias and the cafes specialising in roast meat and vegetables known as rosticcerias. The new rules come into force in mid-March.

The move was seen by some Rome-lovers as a direct assault on some of the city's most sensual pleasures. "I have wonderful memories of walking the streets at night," lamented Giorgio Montefoschi, a novelist and critic who lives in the city. "There is a fantastic pub in Piazza Navona, open till three or four in the morning where you can eat fried eggs or tomatoes with tuna." The reason for targeting these small businesses is that, while they are not pubs, many of them sell alcoholic drinks on the side. Rome's right-wing mayor Gianni Alemanno has been seeking effective ways to curb the loutish late-night drinking habits of increasing numbers of young Romans and visitors to the city, which make some parts of the city centre, particularly Trastevere and Campo de' Fiori, resemble scenes from a cheap re-make of Fellini – Satyricon.

A two-month ban on the sale of alcohol after 9pm in those areas, which has been fiercely opposed by the businesses affected, is to be lifted tomorrow, "on condition," warned the mayor "that there is not a recurrence of the problems."

But the city's officer for commerce, Davide Bordoni, denied the return of drink to those areas was a sign that the city had thrown in the towel. He maintained that the new restrictions would make it harder for youths to go on late-night drinking sprees. The sale of alcoholic drinks by vending machine will also be banned.

The compulsory closure of ice-cream parlours and the rest at 1am will prevent what Mr Bordoni calls "unfair competition" with most pubs and wine bars in the city, which are now required to close at that time.