Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Backseat kissing

You see them in the twilight hours all over Italy. They hide under bushes in the dunes, between reeds, along a forest edge, in rest areas, the periphery of a Campo Sportivo or other places where you can park your car for a couple hours without attracting too much attention. Kissing in cars can be observed all over Italy, as proof of the fact that Italian housing does not leave much room for privacy. A lot of young people have their own car, before they get a room of their own, and consequently private activities move out in public spaces, to the regret of many.

Italians in general are tolerant people, and they are not easily shocked by the behaviour of others. Nevertheless, towns like Eboli near Salerno have introduced a ban on kissing in cars, which means that French kissing a girlfriend, mistress or wife behind closed car door will cost a fine of 50 to 500 euros.

Eboli’s City Council justifies the prohibition with reference to safety, and they may have a point. Last year there was a tragic accident in South Italy, when a 17-year old couple had locked themselves in a car in a garage with the engine running to provide air conditioning. And in the book 'Camorra' Robert Saviano describes how youth gangs from the suburbs around Napoli make extra pocket money by mugging kissing car drivers. The young criminals used the same approach, at same place week after week, making it easy for the police to catch them in the act. Unfortunately the 15-year-old leader threatened the police with a toy gun, before he tried to escape on his scooter. A moment later he was shot dead.

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