Chinatown Is a Hard Sell in Italy
Romans Say Immigrant Area Isn’t Doing as They Would Do
Daniel Williams, Wash. Post, Mar. 1
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?
Elsewhere, this might seem a quaint question. But 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 New York, San Francisco, London, Los Angeles or, on a smaller scale, Washington, 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. “There are no butchers, no laundries. I have to go miles to buy mortadella.”
City hall has laid down rules to limit Chinese commerce in Esquilino and make it less of an immigration magnet. Wholesale outlets, a main source of livelihood for the Chinese, are banned in the district. New occupants of commercial space where one form of business existed for 15 years or longer are not allowed to change the nature of the business for two years. In effect, a bakery must remain a bakery, a cafe, a cafe.
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