The Italian Almanac

car fire

Italian News - August 10

Torching cars and motorbikes in quiet residential areas is the latest craze to hit Rome.

In the past month 76 parked cars and 104 motorcycles have been set ablaze during the night, with engines exploding and flames damaging buildings. Heat has cracked windows as high as the third floor of apartment blocks, causing anger among residents, who have been going into the streets in their nightclothes to find cars reduced to smoldering ruins.

Police and residents feared at first that the night explosions were terrorist acts. Police say that the arsonists pour petrol on car bonnets, throw lighted matches and escape on scooters as the fires spread and petrol tanks explode. Colonel Luongo said that vehicle arson was a new and disturbing phenomenon. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said, adding that a number of fires seemed to be copycat incidents.

Giulio Castelli, head of the residents’ association in Rome’s historic centre, said that the spate of attacks was a reflection of “a general trend towards yobbishness” in Italy. He said that there was an increase in drunkenness among Italian youths, especially in piazzas lined with late-night bars. Police said that the disturbances were more than midsummer madness and reflected a rise in anti-social behavior.