Earlier this week I had a language exchange over aperitivos. Later as I walked through Campo de Fiori I noticed there were several police cars. On weekends there aren't that many cars. What was going on?
The Italian I was with told me the Mayor had deployed more cops after an American tourist was stabbed the other week. The man was visiting from California. He went to an after-hours, members only club and got into a fight with two Romans from the 'burbs early Sunday morning. The fight spilled into the street. The neighbors called the cops. He is in critical condition after a major artery was cut. The two Romans were arrested quickly thanks to neighbors and the club owners.
The residents of the area have been complaining for years about the bars on the Campo. I noticed on Christmas Eve when even Aristocampo was closed the American owned The Drunken Ship was open. I should take a picture of their window. They have T-shirts that say things like "Show Us Your Tips". Clever no?
In any city there is a battle between the resident and bars/clubs. However, the residents were here in the Historic Center long before the pubs and pubs crawls became popular. The drinking rates among younger Italians is growing, which is something new.
I only rent so I just throw on ear plugs to sleep. I don't even live on the square but on warm nights you can hear the noise from blocks away and all the side streets get crowded with mostly drunk exchange students. However I understand why my neighbors are annoyed. Trust if I paid 1.1 million for a two bedroom condo and couldn't get any sleep because of all the drunk kids I'd throw buckets of water on them too.
I get that Friday and Saturdays are bad but when it's every night during the warm months, it's a pain. Some of us have to actually work and don't get to spend our parents money aboard drinking instead of studying. One expat professor I know told me one of his students got so drunk she fell off a bridge.
There's a movement back in the States to change the drinking age back to 18. I wish they would. Binge drinking is a major problem on our campuses. It's crazy to me that at 18 we can vote, fight in a war, but can't have a beer with pizza. We as a country have a bizarre relationship with alcohol (and sex) and think by telling a young adult they can't drink that they won't. As a freshman in college, during the first semester I did get caught up in the drinking to get drunk atmosphere. I understand why the under 21 studying abroad crowd goes nuts when they come to Europe where the drinking age is around 16.
I do worry when I see the drunk American girls weaving around the Center. While Rome is very safe when you are that drunk you don't have your wits about you. This is still a big city and not Disneyland.
I'm curious if the increased police presence will be here all year. I heard the Campo a few years back was even worse with constant fights, Ultras (soccer hooligans) getting into fights with fans from visiting teams, etc. I'm not sure what the solution is. What role do the bars play? Should they be held responsible for the behavior of their customers? You can't ban them from selling shots.
Why do you think about the American drinking age being 21? Should it go back to 18? Why do so many young people drink to get drunk?