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CRIME

Spain sticks by ‘Mafia’ restaurant chain

A request by the Italian government to get the Spanish crime-inspired restaurant chain ‘Mafia’ to change its name has been rejected, Italian media have reported.

Spain sticks by 'Mafia' restaurant chain
The Spanish franchise-model business last year grew to 34 restaurants nationwide since opening in 2000. Screen grab: YouTube

Following an appeal from Sicilian MP Claudio Fava, whose own father was killed by Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia, the Italian government requested that the controversially named Spanish eatery either change its name or be forced to close.

However the request was not greeted favourably by Spanish authorities, who responded saying that the word “mafia” was now so widely used across the world that it did not necessarily relate to the Italian criminal organization.

They added that there were several brands containing the word “mafia” which were not only registered in Spain, but also in other EU countries.

Nevertheless, the foreign ministry’s undersecretary Benedetto della Vedova has assured Fava, who is an MP in Catania for the Left Ecology Freedom party, that the government would also contact the Spanish Embassy in Italy with its request. 

Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper slammed the restaurant chain for its “bad taste”.

“But it’s not even that original,” wrote the paper. “Considering that several Italian establishments are named after the so-called honorary company across the world.

“It’s the fault of a lack of imagination of those who run them, but also, disgracefully, of the great notoriety that the criminals from our South are earning abroad.”

A rare success story during the country's economic crisis, the Spanish franchise-model business last year grew to 34 restaurants nationwide since opening in 2000.

In an article printed in La Repubblica newspaper in February 2014, Attilio Bolzoni, a writer on organized crime, highlighted the irony of signing up for La Mafia’s loyalty club while members of various mafia clans carried out their activities in Spanish cities including Malaga, Madrid, Barcelona and Toledo.

"Imagine what would happen in Spain if someone in Italy opened a restaurant dedicated to the (Basque) terrorist group Eta," speculated the resigned-sounding journalist.

"The word mafia is a brand that is immediately recognized, it’s a call to attention and everyone remembers it,” the firm’s public relations manager Pablo Martínez told the Italian journalist at the time.

"We didn't create it, we just use it."

Martínez stressed that images of violence were prohibited in the firm's restaurants and that the model was the mafia of the movies like The Godfather.

"We apologize to those Italians who feel offended (by the name) but that’s not our intention."

The article caused an immediate reaction in Italy with Marco Anzaldi, an MP with Italy’s Democratic Party, calling for an official complaint to be lodged.

In August last year, a Sicilian politician and anti-mafia commissioner lambasted restaurants in Denmark for naming pizzas and sandwiches after a notorious crime gang after stumbling across an Al Capone pizza in Copenhagen.

He said the dishes "exploited the worst stereotypes about southern Italy and criminals".

SEE ALSO: Spain's 'mafia' eateries spark Italian outrage

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ROME

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.

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