Rome limiting alcohol sales

The Italian capital is limiting alcohol sales in neighborhoods famous for their nightlife to tamp down on loud, all-night partying.

Under new rules that took effect Friday, no alcohol “to go” can be sold in bars, restaurants, supermarkets or other outlets after 9 p.m. Starting at 2 a.m., the sale of alcohol is banned inside bars and restaurants, although discos are exempt.

Rome’s mild temperatures and stunning sites form the perfect venue for an outdoor cocktail, and residents and tourists alike buy drinks to sip them by Rome’s famous Baroque fountains. But residents have complained about the constant noise, and Rome’s new right-wing mayor, Gianni Alemanno, was elected on a law-and-order platform.

“We want to avoid extremism, the idea that anything can be done and that one can drink forever,” city official Dino Gasperini told The Associated Press. “An administration must protect everybody, including those who don’t get drunk every day.”

Earlier this month, an American tourist was stabbed after a fight near Campo de’ Fiori, the downtown piazza where hundreds go every night to party in bars and restaurants.

Campo de’ Fiori is covered by the new measures, as is Trastevere, whose narrow alleys are lined with bars, and Testaccio, home to popular bars and nightclubs. The ban remains in effect until March.

Business owners, who can be fined up to 500 euros ($750) for violations, were unhappy with the ban.

“In my sandwich shop, we only sell beer to go and the sandwich-beer combo is a classic,” Fabio Penari said in Campo de’ Fiori. “These measures will hurt my business.”

The head of a local retail group, Cesare Pambiachi, also railed at the measures.

“We have to be vigilant about rules that smell of Prohibition,” he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper, referring to the United States’ all-out ban on alcohol in the 1920s.

Fabrizio Marchetti, a 24-year-old bar worker, predicted the measures won’t do much to increase security.

“People will get drunk at the counter rather than outside,” he said.

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