Rules of Italy’s roads: driver fined over €3k for pee break

A 40-year-old man was slapped with a hefty fine on Monday when he stopped to urinate at the side of a main road in northern Italy.

Rules of Italy's roads: driver fined over €3k for pee break
A 40-year-old man has been fined for weeing at the side of the S42 main road, pictured above. Photo: Wikimedia

The man was on his way back from spending Easter Monday with friends when he stopped to empty his bladder.

He pulled over to the side of the S42 – a road which passes between the northern cities of Bolzano and Bergamo – just outside the town of Berzo Demo, in the Lombardy province of Brescia.

Unfortunately, a passing police car saw him and issued him with a huge fine for 'acts against public decency'.

Such charges used to carry possible jail sentences in Italy, but earlier this year the government passed changes to legislation which re-classified a number of misdemeanours.

“This type of act was recently decriminalized, which on the one hand means you can't be imprisoned for it, but on the other hand the fines have gone up,” a police spokesperson told La Repubblica.

This is not the only time urinating in public has cost somebody dear in Italy.

Earlier this year, school teacher Stefano Rho was sacked after the school discovered he had a criminal record for peeing in a bush 11 years ago.

After a public campaign, Rho was reinstated.

But it remains to be seen whether the motorist's fine will be reduced or overturned.


Italian cafe owner fined €1,000 for ‘overpriced’ €2 espresso

Baristas have spoken out against ‘outdated’ rules after one café owner in Florence got a €1,000 fine over his coffee pricing.

Italian cafe owner fined €1,000 for 'overpriced' €2 espresso

Award-winning barista and trainer Francesco Sanapo, owner of the Ditta Artiginale cafe in Florence, was reportedly hit with the steep fine after a patron reported him to the local police.

The customer filed a complaint because they were upset at unexpectedly having to fork out €2 for a decaffeinated espresso, reported local news site Firenze Today.

Single-shot espressos typically cost €1 or less in Italy. Ditta Artigianale said its coffee comes from a small plantation in Mexico and that decaffeinated coffee requires complex extraction techniques that are expensive, hence the two-euro charge.

The fine however wasn’t due to the espresso’s high price, but because of a rule that requires cafés in Italy to display their prices behind the counter or in a menu.

Because Ditta Artiginale only publishes some of its prices in physical form, listing others in only an online menu accessed via a QR code, police reportedly said the owner failed to comply with Italian law.

Sanapo asked his followers for help in fighting the fine, calling the law “outdated” in a video uploaded to Facebook on Saturday, 

“They fined me because they paid two euros for my espresso. This can’t go through, it can’t happen. Help me!!!” the message accompanying the video reads.

“I’m not one to use social media to complain, but this time they have touched a nerve with something that is too important to me and to the entire hospitality industry and particularly the coffee/café world.”

In a subsequent video published on Monday, Sanapo said he didn’t take issue so much with the fine in itself, which he said he would pay, but with Italy’s fixation on having access to cheap coffee at the expense of good quality.

READ ALSO: Where, when and how to drink coffee like an Italian

“Think about it: with one euro you cannot pay a sustainable wage to those who produce coffee, you can’t pay for the professionalism of those who are trained to a high level in hospitality. With one euro we generate poverty throughout the supply chain, we create illegal jobs or workers who are underpaid even when all goes well. A one euro cup of coffee means using poor quality products,” he told the Repubblica news daily.

Sanapo’s peers in the Italian coffee industry have expressed solidarity with his situation.

“We stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Ditta Artigianale. This is 2022 but in Italy you still can’t talk about quality when it comes to coffee, in this sector quality is not appreciated: this is very serious,” Serena Nobili from Dini Caffe reportedly said.

“To disregard the quality of a product where there is a lot of work behind it is something that I am deeply saddened by. Quality is paid for and it is to everyone’s benefit,” echoed Alessandro Vittorio Sorani, president of the small business association Confartigianato Imprese, according to Firenze Today.