Chinatown Is a Hard Sell in Italy

March 5, 2004

ROME – This city that prides itself on welcoming all nationalities is wrestling awkwardly with an issue concerning its changing face: Should there be a Chinatown here?

The prospect has created plenty of hard feelings here. City hall and Italian residents of Esquilino, the district where thousands of Chinese have put down roots, are aggressively resisting the emergence of what is being described as an ethnically defined ghetto. What might be fine for other cities doesn’t wash here.

“This is a neighborhood in the historic center of Rome. Rome is Rome and not a provincial Chinese capital,” said Dima Capozzio, president of the Esquilino Block Association.

City hall has laid down rules to limit Chinese commerce in Esquilino and make it less of an immigration magnet.

“We’re trying to avoid development of ethnic neighborhoods. There cannot be a Chinatown in Rome,” said Maria Grazia Arditto, spokeswoman for the commerce adviser to the mayor.

The conflict is rooted in the Romans’ view of themselves and their city. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” has become a rallying cry because, in the Roman view, the Chinese are doing as the Chinese do – and in upsetting ways. They sell products in bulk, raise signs in Chinese characters, work long and odd hours and keep to themselves in a way that many Italians consider unfriendly and mysterious.

Chinese immigrants number about 60,000 nationwide, and no more than a10,000 in Rome.

 

You may be interested

Strong winds cause three deaths in Costa Rica, one in El Salvador
Weather
1688 views
Weather
1688 views

Strong winds cause three deaths in Costa Rica, one in El Salvador

AFP - December 10, 2017

Three people have died in Costa Rica, includiing two Swiss tourists, and one in El Salvador as a result of…

6 camouflaged Costa Rican creatures you probably haven’t seen
Environment and Wildlife
2292 views
Environment and Wildlife
2292 views

6 camouflaged Costa Rican creatures you probably haven’t seen

Lindsay Fendt - December 9, 2017

The jungle can be a scary place, and even for some of the fiercest of Costa Rica’s creatures, sometimes the…

National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions ship makes first visit to Osa Peninsula
Cruises
2012 views
Cruises
2012 views

National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions ship makes first visit to Osa Peninsula

The Tico Times - December 8, 2017

National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions touched down for the first time on Costa Rica's renowned Osa Peninsula this week for…