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Bah humbug! Italy bans New Year's Eve fireworks

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Local councils up and down Italy are banning traditional New Year's Eve firework displays. Photo: Colin Knowles / Flickr
10:27 CET+01:00
They may be a millennia-old and time-honoured tradition, but cities and towns across Italy are introducing measures to ban or limit customary New Year's Eve firework displays.

The ban comes amid air-pollution concerns in Italy, with councils already trying to limit smog problems by introducing measures to reduce the circulation of traffic in Milan, Turin and Rome, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

Councils say the traditional New Year's Eve fireworks will emit huge quantities of fine particles into the air, provoking a series of chemical reactions that will exacerbate the existing smog surrounding cities.

But pollution is not the only reason for the ban - some councils also want to spare animals the routine torture of loud bangs and flashing lights.

In the affluent mountain town of Cortina d'Ampezzo, the local council banned fireworks, citing both citizen and animal welfare as the main reasons.

In Italy's south, fireworks are more popular and represent a stronger tradition, but even there councils are trying to restrict their use over the next few days. The Sicilian city of Messina has banned all pyrotechnics until January 10th.

In Campania, a province famous for its liberal use of fireworks on feast days, Andrea Manzi, the mayor of Casamarciano, a town near Naples, was one of the first to call for a ban – suggesting citizens ring in the new year by sending up Chinese lanterns instead.


A suitable substitute? Photo: Massimo Peruffo/Flickr

Manzi also hopes to quell the huge trade in illegal fireworks present in the region.

European environmental organization, FareAmbiente, estimated that the illegal market was worth some €100 million a year and involved 250 to 300 illegal producers centred around Naples.

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But, a statement from the organization warned that banning fireworks could help the illegal trade to flourish.

“Repressive ordinances only serve to favour the black market trade in illegal fireworks," a spokesperson from the organization told Il Fatto Quotidiano.

"Local mayors should instead designate suitable public spaces where exhibitions can take place.”

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