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New Drinking Habits For A New Generation

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As highlighted by several influential news services (last by the BBC in August 2009), Italy is battling a new problem: Drinking and randalising youths, touring the city centres, and drinking on the street. Italy was once better known for its refrained attitude to drinking, but the new phenomenon of binge drinking is rapidly growing among the younger generations. And the traditional Italian way of savouring a prosecco or a glass of chianti is slowly slipping away, as bars all over the country adapt to the new habits and launch offers such as happy hours, or three-for-two-offers, en masse.

l trastevere fountain2 rome New Drinking Habits For A New Generation

Young people on Piazza di S. Maria in Trastevere

Rome has not been spared, to say the least: Campo de’ Fiori has become the main scene of the problem in the city. A report published by “Il Messaggero” in January 2009 suggests that the city of Rome has taken some drastic measures this year, among which are a ban on drinking on the street after 21:00 hours in the historic centre, increased numbers of security cameras, better general street lighting, but also attempts at prevention.

In many ways it is sad to see Italy following the UK and many other countries in Europe into the same difficult crusade, attempting to influence the binge-drinking habits of the young generation. For years, Italy’s youth largely seemed to resist the phenomenon of binge drinking, perhaps influenced by the italian tradition of savouring one’s drink much the same way as a tasty meal.

Not so much now. Has Italy’s youth finally caved in to the pressures and hurdles facing them? Italy has some of the lowest starting salaries in Europe, disproportionally high rents, an exploding cost of living since the introduction of the Euro, and meets start-up shops and companies with near insurmountable bureaucracy and the need to pay protection money. Have things just become too depressing to be tolerated while sober? Or has Italy’s youth simply found a new way of entertaining themselves, experimenting with the pastimes of youths in other parts of the world, which have undoubtedly been made more visible and accessible by global and instant media?

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