MILLENNIUM CORNER: 28 DAYS TO GO

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The Independent Online
RELIGIOUS VISITORS to Rome for the year 2000 Jubilee, which coincides with celebrations for the new millennium, may find themselves on a pilgrimage of a far from spiritual nature. Public latrines, which abounded two millenniums ago, have all but disappeared. Many visitors on a desperate quest to find one end up pleading for access to a grubby lavatory in a cafe.

However, bar and restaurant owners, furious at recent hygiene inspections, threaten to strike. They say they are forced by law to open their doors to non-clients, who steal soap, waste electricity and make a mess.

An industry spokesman said if the council was so keen to ensure the expected 30 million visitors had somewhere pleasant to pee, they should pay the unemployed and students to clean bar toilets. The city refuse authority has guaranteed 225 new public lavatories but, with just two weeks to go until the start of the year, there is no sign of them.

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