Romans head outside as cafés ban smoking

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Café owners and clubbers in Rome took a new smoking ban in their stride yesterday with many saying the crackdown would breathe new life into the traditional outdoor stroll or passeggiata as smokers are forced back on to the Eternal City's piazzas.

Café owners and clubbers in Rome took a new smoking ban in their stride yesterday with many saying the crackdown would breathe new life into the traditional outdoor stroll or passeggiata as smokers are forced back on to the Eternal City's piazzas.

"Most of these people you see sitting at tables outside would have been inside yesterday," said Alessandro, head barman at the Bar della Pace, one of Rome's trendiest nightspots. "For those of us working here it is a relief, we're all smokers but we never liked smoking clients' cigarettes as well."

A stone's throw away, smokers unaccustomed to taking their morning espresso without a cigarette in hand stumbled sheepishly out of the Bar St Eustachio, a claimant for the best coffee in Rome, and lit up on the pavement. "Going to a bar like this is OK, you just have your coffee in five minutes and go out for your cigarette. Romans are used to living outside in squares like the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Navona, the climate here always has helped," said Serena Valentini, a fashion designer. "What is a little restrictive is not being able to smoke in restaurants."

On Piazza Navona itself, bar owner Antonio, who used to be head barman at Harry's Bar on the Via Veneto at the height of the Dolce Vita, said that the ban was sure to be good for business under the umbrellas on his terrace. "It's a bit early in the season but people are sure to spend more time outside; people have already begun to abandon some of the closed night clubs near Harry's."

A dandy puffing on a Marlboro by one of the Piazza Navona's Bernini fountains, Enzo Carlone, said that the new law was only a "more coercive" version of existing 1975 legislation forbidding smoking in hospitals and restricting it in bars and restaurants which had only been unevenly applied. "It is not a real change, the government has just talked it up," he said.

Comments