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Refugees protest against ‘monotonous’ Italian food

A protest held by refugees against “monotonous” Italian food was “excessive”, especially at a time when thousands of Italians go hungry, the president of a police organization told The Local.

Refugees protest against 'monotonous' Italian food
Refugees at a centre in Italy protest against their "pasta and tomato sauce" diet. Photo: Russell James Smith

For two days, a group of about 40 asylum-seekers staying at a refugee centre in the Veneto province of Belluno refused to eat the “pasta with tomato sauce, bread and eggs” meals they were given and called to be fed food from their own countries, Libero Quotidiano reported.

To reinforce their point, they blocked a street with a wooden bench, put their lunch on the ground along with bags of clothes and threatened to leave the centre in La Secca, a hamlet in Ponte nelle Alpi.

They reportedly said “we do not eat this stuff”.

The refugees, said to have been staying at the centre for the past four months, also reportedly slashed the tyres of cars belonging to staff working there in protest against living conditions.

The protest, which follows similar ones at centres in Pozzallo in Sicily and Rome, was also partly sparked by “boredom”, the newspaper said, as they “do not know what to do with themselves”.

Police soon broke up the protest and the refugees resumed eating, but Antonio De Lieto, the president of Libero Sindicato di Polizia, a non-profit organization that represents staff of the state police force, told The Local that the action was “excessive”.

“There are thousands of Italians living in poverty and who aren’t even eating one meal a day, let alone two or three,” he said.

“They’re not complaining that the food isn’t good, but that it is not the food of their countries. But when you’re hosted in someone’s home, for example, you eat their food, right? It’s like on the many occasions I’ve been hosted in England, I don’t expect to eat spaghetti.”

Sam, a migrant from Gambia who has been staying at a centre on the outskirts of Rome for almost a year, told The Local that the food, which mainly consists of pasta, “is not good” and that some have started making their own meals.

“We need the diet from our country,” he said.

Sam, who paid a people smuggler €4,000 to travel to Italy, said he passes the days by travelling on buses throughout the capital.

“I don’t want to hang around the centre all day. I can’t work and even if I could, too many Italians are also looking for jobs. Once I get my documents I want to go somewhere else, maybe Germany or The Netherlands.” 

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FOOD & DRINK

From spritz to shakerato: Six things to drink in Italy this summer

Summer in Italy means lots of things - trips to the beach, empty cities, strikes, and metro works - but it also ushers in the spritz and negroni season. Here are some of the best drinks to cool down with in Italy this summer.

From spritz to shakerato: Six things to drink in Italy this summer

Spritz

Venice wins all the prizes for being the home of the spritz: the jewel in Italy’s summertime daisy crown and one of the country’s most popular exports.

To first-time customers, the sweet-and-bitter combo can taste unpleasantly like a poisoned alcopop. Stick with it, however, and you’ll soon learn to appreciate this sunset-coloured aperitif, which has come to feel synonymous with summer in Italy.

The most common version is the bright orange Aperol Spritz, but if this starts to feel too sweet once your tastebuds adjust then you can graduate to the dark red Campari Spritz, which has a deeper and more complex flavour profile.

What are the best summer drinks to order in Italy?

Photo by Federica Ariemma/Unsplash.

Negroni

If you’re too cool for the unabashedly flamboyant spritz but want something not too far off flavour-wise, consider the Negroni.

It’s equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari – though if you want a more approachable version, you can order a ‘Negroni sbagliato’ – literally a ‘wrong’ Negroni – which replaces the gin with sweet sparkling Prosecco white wine.

Served with a twist of orange peel and in a low glass, the Negroni closely resembles an Old Fashioned, and is equally as stylish. A traditional Negroni may be stirred, not shaken, but it’s still the kind of cocktail that Bond would surely be happy to be seen sipping.

Crodino

Don’t fancy any alcohol but still crave that bitter, amaro-based aftertaste?

A crodino might be just what you’re after. With its bright orange hue, it both looks and tastes very similar to an Aperol Spritz – so much so that you might initially ask yourself whether you’ve in fact been served the real thing.

Similar in flavour are soft drinks produced by the San Pellegrino brand; bars that don’t have any crodino on hand will often offer you ‘un San Pellegrino’ as a substitute. These drinks are usually available in multiple flavours like blood orange, grapefruit, or prickly pears.

A barman prepares a Campari Spritz cocktail in the historic Campari bar at the entrance of Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II shopping mall. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

Chinotto

Much like the crodino, the chinotto is another distinctive bitter Italian aperitivo drink.

With its medium-dark brown colouring, however, the chinotto bears more of a resemblance to Coca Cola than to the spritz, leading to its occasionally being designated as the ‘Italian Coca Cola’.

In reality far less caramelly and much more tart than coke, the chinotto has its detractors, and the fact that we’re having to describe its flavour here means it clearly hasn’t set the world alight since it was first invented in the 1930s (it was subsequently popularised by San Pellegrino, which became its main Italian producer).

If you’re looking for another grown-up tasting alternative to an alcoholic aperitivo, however, the chinotto might just be the place to look.

Bellini

What’s not to love about the bellini?

Its delicate orange and rose-pink tones are reminiscent of a sunset in the same way as a spritz, but with none of the spritz’s complex and contradictory flavours.

A combination of pureed peach and sugary Prosecco wine, the bellini’s thick, creamy texture can almost make it feel smoothie or even dessert-like. It’s a sweet and simple delight, with just a slight kick in the tail to remind you it’s not a soft drink.

Shakerato

Not a fan of drinks of the fruity/citrusy/marinated herby variety?

If caffeine’s more your thing, Italy has an answer for you in the caffe shakerato: an iced coffee drink made with espresso, ice cubes, and sugar or sugar syrup.

That might not sound inspired at first, but hear us out: the three ingredients are vigorously mixed together in a cocktail shaker before the liquid is poured (ice cube-free) into a martini glass, leaving a dark elixir with a delicate caramel coloured foam on top.

You couldn’t look much more elegant drinking an iced coffee than sipping one of these.

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