NEWS » 2,000 Euro fines for smelly cooking?

2,000 Euro fines for smelly cooking?

Be careful if you cook in Italy! Not only quality standards are very high in the “Bel paese” but also the smell of food must be kept under control or you risk to be fined up to 2000 euros. Italy's supreme court has recently ruled that bad cooking odours constitute a crime.

It all started when residents of an apartment block in northern Italy complained about the cooking smells coming from their neighbours' flat. The long-running battle between neighbours in the apartment block in the town of Monfalcone, on the Adriatic coast, close to the border with Slovenia, resulted in a new regulation. The country’s highest court has ruled that people who allow the smell of their cooking to waft into a neighbour's home are committing a crime. It has been defined “olfactory molestation”.

The couple responsible for this crime used to cook rich pasta sauces and mixed fried seafood. They were first found guilty of anti-social behaviour by a court in the town of Gorizia. The couple appealed to a higher court in the nearby city of Trieste, which in turn upheld the sentence. Finally, also the Court of Cassation in Rome, upheld the rulings of the two lower courts.

The smells have been considered “beyond the limits of tolerability” and constituted what the court called “olfactory molestation” to the detriment of   the overhead apartment on the third floor, owned by another couple. The Court of Cassation dismissed the offending couple’s earlier appeals and ordered them to pay a fine of 2,000 euros.

Disputes over cooking smells are frequent in apartment blocks in Italy, some people claim compensation for having to move residence, while others claim they suffer depression and even psychological trauma from the smell of cooking.

Italy’s growing immigrant population plays a part in the increase of complaints. Italians often complain about the aroma of “exotic foods” such as curries and stir fries heavy with garlic. Restaurants that produce strong cooking smells have been ordered to install better extraction fans and flues after neighbours in apartments above took them to court.

There are one million causes each year for controversies among neighbours.

As far as smell is concerned, cooking is not the first cause of controversy among neighbours, but the bad smell caused by pets and rubbish left in the common areas.

Out of the 67 thousand technical consultations provided each year all over Italy, about twenty thousand concerned bad odours. The most popular complains regarded, firstly, bad smells in the common spaces, secondly, smells associated with the presence of animals which represented 30% of the litigations, being the urine of dogs and cats cited as the main motivation. At the third place there was the smoke of commercial activities (15%), but also the smell of restaurants and craftsmen’s shops who use paints.

Giulia Lombardo

»Back to: NEWS