Crippling bureaucracy has, unfortunately, become embedded in Italy’s soul. And crippling layers of bureaucracy invite corruption from people desperate to navigate the system or to get something done. And corruption opens the door to organized crime…
I know what I’m talking about because my chick is Italian (Like a real Italian from Italy – not someone whose grandma was Italian) and I visit Italy quite often.
On the outskirts of Rome is the beachside town of Ostia. There is a small, relatively quiet organized crime group that controls things in Ostia and I find this fascinating. Everyone knows about it, but nothing is done about it.
The story first came to me as we were driving by the Foot Locker store pictured below… My Italian casually mentioned that it had been firebombed twice.
Yes, initially they didn’t pay their monthly commitment.
As it turns out, all of the businesses in Ostia are required to make monthly payments in order to prevent having their businesses torched. Foot Locker, apparently thinking that as an American corporation they were above such things, stubbornly refused to pay. Well, as a result the store was completely gutted by fire two times. The owners apparently got the message as no further incidents have taken place since then.
An even more stubborn business was Faber Beach:
Faber Beach clears a lot of money in the summer. It is a private beach that comprises a restaurant, bar and outdoor night club. During the summer months, small holes are dug in the sand and filled with candles covering the entire beach. It’s quite nice.
Anyway, the owner decided that he wanted to keep the profits from his business for himself and not share them with the other local entrepreneurs. He refused to share three separate times and as a result, Faber Beach was burned to the ground three times.
This became too much and the owner eventually broke down and decided to start paying. During negotiations it was suggested that a fee of 6,000 euros a month would be appropriate. Although he was overjoyed to only have to pay 6,000 euros a month, he acted concerned about the payment amount in order to not be asked for more.
Here is an example of what happens when one does not pay:
The owners of the blanco lounge beach had their establishment firebombed just as the summer season was getting underway… And, of course, the summer is when these businesses along the beach in Ostia make all of their money:
Ground zero for the “Ostia Mafia” is here in Piazza Gasparri:
Apparently, this is where all of the “Ostia Mafia” members and their family live, or at least have homes:
I’ve been told that things were much more visible here in the 70s and 80s, but just because the activity is less overt does not mean it has gone away:
A stolen Smart car that was stripped and abandoned in Piazza Gasparri:
Below, the woman driving the car on the right has just scraped against the car on the left after clumsily backing out. I wish, dear readers, I could have captured the deliberate slowness with which the man whose car was hit exited his vehicle. Or the very hard expression on his face. I have no doubt that the matter will be very much resolved in his favor.
Piazza Gasparri is not a place I would want to hit someone’s car – even if it wasn’t my fault.